17 Historical Coincidences That Will Blow Your Mind

Coincidences that seem too strange to be true happen more than we think. The Law of Large Numbers dictates that random events like the following are bound to happen — but that doesn’t make it any less amazing when they do. Here are 18 real coincidences that seem too crazy to be true:

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Jefferson Adams

Wikimedia CommonsFounding fathers Thomas Jefferson (left) and John Adams (right), alternately close friends and bitter rivals across their intertwined political careers, died on the same day — July 4, 1826 — the 50th anniversary of American independence, of which these two men were chief architects.

At around 6 p.m. on that fateful day, Adams, unaware that Jefferson had died just after noon, uttered his final words: "Thomas Jefferson survives."

RMS Titanic

Wikimedia CommonsDepending on your perspective, Violet Jessop is either the luckiest or unluckiest women to ever live.

As a stewardess and a nurse, she was aboard the HMS Olympic when it collided with the HMS Hawke; she was on the HMHS Britannic when it struck a mine at sea, and she was aboard the RMS Titanic (above) when it famously hit an iceberg -- sinking the unsinkable ship.

The three ships were “sister ships” and Jessop survived all three encounters, earning her the nickname “Miss Unsinkable”.

Booth Lincoln

Wikimedia CommonsThe year before John Wilkes Booth killed Abraham Lincoln, Booth's brother, Edwin (left), saved the life of Lincoln's son, Robert Todd (right), when the latter was about to fall onto train tracks in Washington, D.C.

Mint Death

PixabaySouth African astronomer Danie du Toit gave a lecture on how death can strike anyone, at any time. Upon the completion of his lecture, du Toit popped a mint into his mouth. It slid into the back of his throat, causing him to choke to death on the spot.

Magic Bullet

Wikimedia CommonsAfter his sister’s suicide, a man vowed revenge on Harry Ziegland, the suitor who had broken his sister’s heart, prompting her to take her life. The brother shot at Ziegland, who fell to the ground. Believing his task done, the brother shot and killed himself with the same gun.

However, the bullet meant for Ziegland did not strike him. Instead, it lodged itself into a nearby tree.

Three years later, Ziegland was working to clear that same location and used dynamite to remove the tree. The explosion sent the bullet flying -- striking and killing Ziegland.

Franz Ferdinand

Wikimedia CommonsWorld War I began with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. The license plate of the car in which he was riding at the time of his death (above) was AIII 118. WWI officially ended on Armistice Day: 11/11/18.

Carmania Trafalgar

Wikimedia CommonsIn the midst of World War I, the British army converted the passenger ship RMS Carmania (right) into a battleship. To avoid enemy fire, it was disguised to look like the German ship SMS Trafalgar (left). In 1914, the Carmania sank a German ship off of the coast of Brazil. The sunken ship was the Trafalgar, which had been disguised to look like the British Carmania.

Gun Duel

Wikimedia CommonsHenri Tragne of Marseille, France participated in five duels from 1861 to 1878. He won the first four without firing a shot, as all four men suddenly died of natural causes. In his fifth duel, it was Tragne himself who dropped dead, before anyone had the chance to fire their gun.

Hoover Dam

Wikimedia CommonsThe first man to die during the building of the Hoover Dam was J.G. Tierney, on December 20, 1922. The final man to die during the project was Patrick W. Tierney, his son, in 1935 -- also on December 20.

Jack Frost

Wikimedia CommonsAfter finding a copy of Jack Frost and Other Stories in a 1920s Paris bookshop, children’s author Anne Parrish told her husband about how much she had loved the book as a child. When he opened the book, the couple found the following inscription: “Anne Parrish, 209 N. Weber Street, Colorado Springs.”

Mark Twain

PixabayAuthor Mark Twain was born in 1835, a year that Halley’s Comet was visible from the Earth, a phenomenon that occurs just once every 76 years. The day after the next appearance of the comet, in 1910, Twain died.

Perhaps this alone is not a huge coincidence, but the year before his death, Twain had actually predicted (and hoped for) this very outcome, stating “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet.”

Napoleon Hitler

Wikimedia CommonsAdolf Hitler was born 129 years after Napoleon Bonaparte. Hitler’s rise to power took place 129 years after Napoleon's; he invaded Russia 129 years after Napoleon, and he was ultimately defeated 129 years after the defeat of Napoleon.

Public Execution

Wikimedia CommonsOn February 13, 1746, a Frenchman named Jean Marie Dubarry was executed for the murder of his father. Exactly 100 years later — to the day — an unrelated man also named Jean Marie Dubarry was put to death. His crime? Patricide.

Killer Cab

zombieite/FlickrIn 1974, a taxi in Bermuda struck a man riding his and killed him. Exactly one year later, the man’s brother died while driving the very same moped -- after he had been struck by the same taxi driver, carrying the same passenger, on the same street where his brother perished.

Poe Shipwreck

Wikimedia CommonsEdgar Allan Poe had but one novel published: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, released in 1838. The novel tells of a doomed Antarctic journey in which four shipwrecked crewmen decide to eat cabin boy Richard Parker in order to survive.

In 1884, four crewmembers survived the ship wreckage of a vessel named the Mignonette. The survivors decided to eat their cabin boy in order to live. As fate would have it, that cabin boy's name was Richard Parker.

Open Windows

Michael Patrick/FlickrJoseph Figlock was walking down a Detroit street in the 1930s, minding his own business, when a baby fell from a fourth floor window straight onto his head. A year later, the same child fell from the same window, again landing on Figlock. Luckily, in both cases, Figlock and the infant survived their unexpected meetings.

Twin Boys

Jeremy Miles/FlickrA pair of twins separated at birth went on to live remarkably similar lives.

Both were given the name James by their adoptive parents. Both grew up to become a police officer and marry a woman named Linda. Both gave their sons the same name (spelled slightly differently): James Allan and James Alan. Both men’s families had a dog named Toy. And both divorced their first wife and then married a woman named Betty.

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The Top Ten Richest People Of All Time

Richest People In History Breakers

Wally Gobetz/FlickrThe Breakers, the Newport, Rhode Island summer home of 19th century New York railroad baron Cornelius Vanderbilt, one of the top ten richest people in history.

Each year, Forbes releases its ranking of the world’s richest people. And each year, some smart aleck chimes in with the news that if you adjust for inflation, Bill Gates wouldn’t even be close to the number one richest person in history.

Not only is that true, but Gates would barely even crack the top ten. In fact, five of the top six richest people in history (when figures are adjusted for inflation) all made their fortunes well over a century ago.

It’s worth asking why, throughout all of history, a hugely disproportionate majority of the all-time wealthiest people were white, American males born between 1820 and 1870 and working as industrialists in the northeastern U.S. — but that’s a larger, thornier topic for another time.

For now, here’s the list — adjusted for inflation and excluding despots and those who lived so long ago that their wealth can’t be verified –itself:

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10. Richard Mellon (1858-1933)

$103 billion

Richest People In History Mellon

Library of CongressThis Pittsburgh-based banker and industrialist got his start in the Mellon Bank, which was founded by his father and which he later led along with his brother, Andrew (stay tuned for more on him).

Via the bank's funds, Mellon bolstered his fortune with investments in coal, aluminum, and more.

9. Stephen Girard (1750-1831)

$105 billion

Stephen Girard

Wikimedia CommonsFrench by birth, and later a naturalized American, Stephen Girard made his fortune after founding his own bank in Philadelphia, in 1812 (nearly 150 years later, that bank actually merged with Mellon Bank). And his timing couldn't have been better. His bank almost solely kept the U.S. afloat during the War of 1812.

By the time he died in 1831, he was the richest person in the U.S. -- and the vast majority of that fortune went to charity.

8. Bill Gates (1955-)

$144 billion

Bill Gates

Sean Gallup/Getty ImagesIn holding the top spot on the annual Forbes list 17 out of the past 22 years, Bill Gates has long been the poster boy for inconceivably vast wealth.

Yet, the Microsoft founder's peak fortune of $144 billion (which came back in 1999) is only enough to place him on the outer fringes of the top ten richest people in history.

7. John Jacob Astor (1763-1848)

$168 billion

John Jacob Astor

Wikimedia CommonsThe German-born Astor worked in a musical instruments factory before coming to New York to work as a butcher. However, a chance meeting on the boat across the Atlantic launched him into the fur trade, in which he made an enormous amount of money.

By the early 1800s, with the fur trade on the decline, Astor briefly got involved in the opium trade before wildly expanding his already great fortune with a bevy of well-timed investments in Manhattan real estate.

From the New York Public Library (which he funded) to the famed Waldorf Astoria hotel (named for him), Astor's influence can be felt all over Manhattan to this day.

6. Andrew Mellon (1855-1937)

$189 billion

Andrew Mellon

Wikimedia CommonsLike his younger brother, Richard (number 10 on this list), Andrew Mellon made his money in the family banking firm, including its interests in oil, steel, coal, and more.

After solidifying his huge fortune, Mellon served as Secretary of the Treasury from 1921 to 1932, during which time he was instrumental in negotiating the international debt resulting from World War I and in determining U.S. tax policy.

With the onset of the Great Depression, however, the conservative Mellon was ousted from his post. Nevertheless, his copious philanthropic gifts, including Carnegie Mellon University, are still known across the country.

5. Henry Ford (1863-1947)

$200 billion

Henry Ford

/AFP/Getty ImagesHenry Ford didn't invent the automobile, but he did make it practical and affordable for the average consumer.

And he didn't invent the assembly line, but he did fold it into an economic model that informed mass production for much of the 20th century and helped make the United States the richest country on Earth.

4. Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877)

$202 billion

Cornelius Vanderbilt

Wikimedia CommonsNew York native Cornelius Vanderbilt made significant money in steamships before venturing into the industry that made him the fourth richest person in history: railroads.

Ultimately, unlike most of the others on this list, Vanderbilt engaged in very little philanthropy, and instead left 95 percent to one of his 13 children, William, and William's four children.

3. Jakob Fugger (1459-1525)

$227 billion

Jakob Fugger

Wikimedia CommonsEasily the oldest entrant on this list, Jakob Fugger is relatively unique among the super-wealthy of the pre-Industrial Revolution period in that he a.) earned his wealth not as a head of state but as a businessman, and b.) had a fortune that was documented with reasonable accuracy and can now actually be compared to those who came centuries after him.

Born in present-day Germany into a family made wealthy in the textile trade, Fugger built upon his considerable inherited wealth with an international mining operation that was nearly monopolistic in its dominance across Europe and Asia.

2. Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919)

$337 billion

Andrew Carnegie

Wikimedia CommonsBorn into a poor family in Scotland before emigrating to the U.S., Andrew Carnegie made his fortune in the burgeoning steel industry.

And although that fortune was large enough to make him the second richest person in history, what truly separates Carnegie from the pack and what defines his legacy to this day is his incredible philanthropy.

All told, he gave away about 90 percent of his fortune (nearly $80 billion, when adjusted for inflation) to various charitable causes. His famous 1889 article "The Gospel of Wealth" is widely credited with informing the wave of philanthropy among America's super-wealthy in the ensuing years. In that article, he wrote "The man who dies thus rich, dies disgraced."

1. John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937)

$367 billion

Richest People In History Rockefeller

-/AFP/Getty ImagesToday, with six of the world's top ten largest companies all in the petroleum business, we've all generally accepted that the oil industry is among the most profitable on Earth.

However, in the 1860s, when New York-born John D. Rockefeller was building his first refineries, the oil boom hadn't yet happened. But then it did. Rockefeller was in the right place at the right time. Worldwide demand went through the roof and Rockefeller controlled, at his peak, over 90 percent of all the oil in the U.S.

The U.S. government eventually dismantled that monopoly, but by then Rockefeller had retired and his wealth was secure. In those later years, he gave away large chunks of what was very likely the largest fortune in history.

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Why The Republican Party’s Founders Wouldn’t Recognize It Today

The Republican Party has been half of American politics for over 160 years now, and today’s incarnation scarcely resembles the Grand Old Party that started with an 1854 anti-slavery meeting in Wisconsin.

Gop Changes Republican Platform

The Republican Party started with a few meetings of Whigs, Abolitionists, and some disaffected Northern Democrats in the northern Midwest in 1854. They were mostly unhappy about the Whig Party’s failure to stop the spread of slavery into the Western territories and the perceived corruption of the Democratic Party. Together, they drafted an impressively forward-looking platform and started running candidates for national office. By 1860, after only four years of hard campaigning, they had elected their first president, an Abolitionist lawyer from Illinois named Abraham Lincoln.

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The Sad Origins Of Why We Tell Kids Not To Take Candy From A Stranger

Learn about the real-life tragedy that inspired the phrase “Don’t take candy from strangers.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA          Processed With VSCOcam With A1 Preset

Giovanna Graf/Getty Images

Each year in the United States, upwards of 800,000 children under the age of 18 disappear — and that’s just counting reported missing persons cases.

While these cases often make fine fodder for evening news, for most of history they did not garner popular attention. Indeed, it wasn’t until the disappearance of Etan Patz and later, Adam Walsh, that mass media became a tool to crack the cases as well as pass legislation meant to curb the number of them that end in death. But almost 200 years before Etan Patz and Adam Walsh inspired the concern of millions came a little boy named Charley Ross, who would become the first missing child in American history to make headlines.

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