Best of America

15 Fascinating Facts You Never Learned About America

Which president was a hangman, which owned a saloon, the country's deadliest job, and more mind-blowing trivia about American history and culture.

Our Grand Old Flag

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The current 50-star American flag was designed by a 17-year-old as a school project in 1958. He got a B-. Want to explore the beauty of the American West? Get more info about an amazing travel experience to America’s Cowboy Country here.

Talk about a Great Lake

istock/Michael Westhoff

There is enough water in Lake Superior to cover the entire landmass of North and South America in one foot of liquid.

A whole lotta pizza

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Meanwhile, we sell enough pizza every day to cover 100 acres.

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Our mighty military

istock/John Bell

The largest air force in the world is the U.S. Air Force. The world’s second-largest air force is the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps combined.

Cry me a (very old) river

istock/Dwight Nadig

Three of the world’s five oldest rivers flow here: The New, the Susquehanna, and the French Broad Rivers are each hundreds of millions of years old.

The power of youth

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But our nation is young: The government is still paying one pension on behalf of a Civil War veteran (to his 85-year-old daughter).

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America's deadliest job

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Statistically, the deadliest job in America is … president. Of the 
45 men who’ve held the post, four have been assassinated in office—
a rate of roughly 9 percent (or about one in ten) killed on the job.

An entrepreneurial president

The Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana, Alexander Hesler/Library of Congress

The only U.S. president to own a patent and a saloon: Abraham Lincoln. His patent was for a device to lift boats over sandbars. His saloon was a miserable failure. Here are famous presidential "quotes" that are completely fake.

The president you don't want to mess with

Napoleon Sarony/Library of Congress

The only president who was an executioner: Grover Cleveland. As sheriff of Erie County, New York, he hanged a murderer.

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In praise of the pilgrims

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An estimated one in ten of us could be a blood relative to one of the original 102 pilgrims who arrived aboard the Mayflower in 1620. But we still believe these myths about Thanksgiving.

The FBI is watching us

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And roughly one in three of us has his or her fingerprints on file with the FBI. Here are more fascinating facts you never knew about the FBI.

A nation of do-gooders

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According to the World Giving Index, Americans are the most likely people in the world to help a stranger.

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Thanks to our firemen

istock/Susan Chiang

Case in point: Slightly more than 69 percent of firefighters in the United States are volunteers.

Our real Independence day

istock/Lee Pettet

The day Congress voted us free from British rule is July 2, 1776. July 4 is just when John Hancock put the first signature on the Declaration of Independence to spread the word.

The highest court in the land

istock/garymilner

Finally, the real acme of the American justice system? That would be the basketball court on 
the fifth floor of the Supreme Court building. It’s known as the Highest Court in the Land. 
Sources: todayifoundout.com, seagrant.umn.edu, fbi.gov, wsj.com, thewire.com, cafonline.org, nfpa.org, usnews.com, reddit.com, nationalinterest.org, navy.mil, smithsonian.com, knowledgenuts.com, washingtonpost.com, the Mayflower Society, and atlasobscura.com

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