15 Astonishing Facts About America

By Brandon Specktor

Thought you knew a thing or two about the USA? Think again: your mind is about to be red, white, and blown.

15 Astonishing Facts About America
Photo: Adam Voorhes; Styling: Robin Finlay

1. The current 50-star American flag was designed by a 17-year-old as a school project in 1958. He got a B-.

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

3. Meanwhile, the US sells enough pizza every day to cover 100 acres.

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

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

6. But as a nation, America is young: the US government is still paying one pension on behalf of a Civil War veteran (to his 85-year-old daughter).

7. Statistically, the deadliest job in America is … president. Of the 44 men who’ve held the post, four have been assassinated in office – a rate of roughly nine percent (or about one in ten) killed on the job.

8. The only US 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.

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

10. An estimated one in ten Americans could be a blood relative to one of the original 102 pilgrims who arrived aboard the Mayflower in 1620.

11. And roughly one in three Americans has his or her fingerprints on file with the FBI.

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

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

14. The real Independence Day – the day Congress voted America 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.

15. 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

Subscribe to Reader's Digest magazine for more fabulous facts...

 
Recommended For You
Featured Articles
10 Small But Significant Romantic Gestures That Can Improve Any Relationship Almost Immediately Magazine
10 Small But Significant Romantic Gestures That Can Improve Any Relationship Almost Immediately
Expensive jewellery and trips to Paris? Nope. Ten women explain why the small, romantic gestures matter more.
The 15 Best Superfoods for Diabetics Health  
The 15 Best Superfoods for Diabetics
Include these nutrition superstars in your diabetes diet to lower blood sugar, burn fat, reduce inflammation and gain more health benefits.
13 Mind-Blowing Facts That Make Watching Star Wars Even Better Magazine  
13 Mind-Blowing Facts That Make Watching Star Wars Even Better
Which Star Wars character was gender-swapped, which was almost a monkey, and how George Lucas made the most expensive bet of his life.
Why Do Americans and Brits Drive on Different Sides of the Road? Travel
Why Do Americans and Brits Drive on Different Sides of the Road?
The British custom of driving on the left side of the road isn't a sign of eccentricity – there's actually a very sensible reason for it.
Advertisement