Neither period in the epochs of history, nor any place in the millennia has ever been free of events and incidents that have taken the world by storm. It takes a little time for the surprise to hit but it takes a long, long time to record them in history, in relation to the time and in the context of their construction in history. The United States is a country based on twists and fits and starts, with a rich history leading to a richer future. From Abraham Lincoln to Barack Obama and from Julia Child to Gordon Ramsay, US History has been full of riddles of US surprising events. You will find that the history of the country is not just long and chaotic but that it is full of US Surprising History. Read on to find what some of the US surprising history events were. There were plenty of them and each was unique in its own essence.
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Bob Dylan’s Absence For The Nobel Prize
Time Period: October 2016.
Image Credit: Daily Mail
The writers and poets in America were neither blind nor ignorant to the fact that the previous tally of Nobel Prizes for Literature had been going to writers and poets from all over the world – but not to American writers. Nobody was quite oblivious to the fact that the Swedish committee was kinder to writers of color than to writers from America. Therefore, when the Swedish committee in 2016 decided to give the prize at last to an American, everybody was surprised – not because they had finally given the award to an American again, but because it had been given to an American musician and not an American writer or a poet! Many received the news with skepticism and criticism – claiming how the prize was all politics and had nothing to do with Literature. But a larger community embraced the prize and Dylan for his contributions to the poetic tradition of America.
9. Donald Trump’s Candidacy
Time Period: 1946 – Present
Image Credit: National Interview
Born in 1946 with a mop of blonde hair that stands out in the most normal of places, Donald Trump wasn’t exactly a “nobody”. Rich, wealthy, influential, he was the man behind chains of hotels and what not? The Simpsons alluded many a time to him before he even made it to the mainstream as a businessman and Bret Easton Ellis’ (in)famous novel American Psycho made mention of Donald Trump once in every two pages. In fact, Trump was the pivotal inspirational figure for Patrick Bateman in the novel. But this was in 2001. The surprise came when Trump announced he was running for president – and has up till now kept the world full of people amused with his mockery, hate speech, and japes. The only thing that will make more of the US history than him running for president would be him winning the election.
8. Neil Armstrong’s Ironic Career Choice
Time Period: 1969
Image Credit: CNN
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” said Neil Armstrong, the first man to step on the moon.
We don’t exactly know if Neil’s arm was strong or not – but certainly strong enough to hold on to Apollo 11 as it drifted to the moon. Being the first of the human race – at least in this galaxy – to step on the moon was a major distinction for Armstrong, who had previously served the U.S. Navy. For someone who had suffered from motion sickness as a child to have traveled to the moon in an interstellar journey is a mind-boggling feat – and that it should be an American who hoisted the flag with stars and stripes on the moon first of all, was one of US surprising events in US history as it was a proud event.
7. Ted Bundy – The Killer Guy
Time Period: August 1961 – February 1978
Image Credit: Escapist Magazine
“We serial killers are your sons, we are your husbands, we are everywhere. And there will be more of your children dead tomorrow.”
The quote above is by America’s most notorious serial killer, whose name is known far and wide. Ted Bundy is no alien to the common man, though he has been dead for some years now. Yet people remember him and fear him alike, even after so many years of his execution, for Bundy was the orchestrator behind not just one of the US surprising events but in world history in general. None shall forget the fear and the panic and the paranoia that spread far and wide all through America when Bundy first began his killing spree and when it first dawned on the authorities that a serial killer was on the loose. But that wasn’t Bundy’s most notorious shock to create US surprising history. It was his dashing style, his flair and his charisma, that drew him “fans” while he was still rotting in jail for his crimes. A man with no regrets nor any guilt, with a proper fan base in the U.S., Bundy surprised us all when he took up his own case in court and defended himself as his own lawyer. Bundy might be dead, but his name shall be looked upon in fear and filth forever.
6. The Witch Trials
Time Period: February 1692 & March 1693
Image Credit: Wikimedia
Long before Hogwarts spoke of witches and wizards, witches were not looked upon so kindly in America – especially not in the colonial Massachusetts. Nathaniel Hawthorne draws a grim picture of the Puritan Salem-esque society that thrived in “New England” and the like colonies and how the women who were accused of being witches and sorceresses were treated. Any woman who was suspected to be in league with satanic powers was marked with the Scarlet Letter and persecuted – mostly by beheading or burning at the stake. These were cruel trials, barbaric and bloody, and surprised the US to the core.
5. King’s Historic Speech
Time Period: August 28, 1963
Image Credit: PBS News Hour
We have all stood at the exact place facing the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King Jr. once stood and delivered the most iconic speech to have ever come out of world history. Not only a surprising US history event but a seminal event in the books of history all over the world, King’s speech on emancipation to this day warms the heart when heard. And with the election of Barack Obama as the President of the United States, King’s dream did come true, although much later on in time. When King stood and spoke of how “one hundred years later, the Nero (was) still not free,” today the world has seen ten years of presidency from a black President – and it will certainly remain a locus of US History.
4. The Pilgrim’s Progress
Time Period: November 1620
Image Credit: Getty Images
John Bunyan in his fictionalized Pilgrim’s Progress writes in earnest – but the Pilgrims were more than your regular Thanksgiving Turkey. The Pilgrims were not even supposed to arrive in New England. In fact, they had intended to settle in New York, near the Hudson River. However when their ship wrecked off Cape Cod, they had to seek shelter and later settled in New England – and therein came the surprise for the people already settled in that place. Surely, it created US surprising history, having a ship full of starving pilgrims wash up at your shore.
3. Attack On The Pearl Harbor
Time Period: December 7, 1941
Image Credit: Japan Times
Imperial Japan was on everybody’s minds and poking its imperial nose in everybody’s business back in the day. Before the official beginning of the Second World War – the bloodiest war in History to date in terms of body count – it was Imperial Japan that was bent on conquering all of Asia. Its attack on China and its Rape of Nanking go down in History as one of the most barbaric episodes to have ever been recorded. However, it was not the Rape of Nanking, but the unprecedented, uncalled for attack on Pearl Harbor that surprised not just the US but the United Kingdom as well. It was after Japan’s reckless attack on Pearl Harbor – which resulted in hundreds of casualties – that got the US and the UK formally involved in the war, which set the stage for the Second World War: the US declared war on Japan and its allies.
2. The 9/11 Incident
Time Period: September 2001
Image Credit: Fact Slides
None can forget the fall of the Twin Towers that sent so many so early to the grave. Of course, it isn’t wrong to list it under US surprising events for not only were the Twin Towers pierced by a plane but the Pentagon had been breached, or so the tales told. Years later, after the US invaded Iraq in recompense, people still haven’t forgotten the shock that the fateful day brought with it, and brought down with it the looming Twin Towers. It was a day of mourning and loss, and more loss followed as the world fell into chaos.
1. Christopher Colombus’ Discovery/Wrath
Time Period: 1492
Image Credit: BIOGRAPHY
“Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World.”
Perhaps no other event makes it to the recorded US surprising history to the people inhabited in America before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It was a chance arrival, an accident, but later on went to be hailed as his great discovery. Columbus didn’t find India but he found America – and oh, what surprise he brought with him for the natives of the land. The Native Americans were all but wiped out, and the pain is still felt by the remaining descendants of today. The plunder, pillage and murder that Columbus brought with him were grim and grisly surprises for the people who had already inhabited the place (that he thought was West Indies).
History has long been riddled with surprises – in fact, this very world began with a bang, and the big bang very much came as a huge surprise, even though there were zero people inhabiting the world then. Accidents and fateful episodes and things that happen by chance are what History has had to offer us in plentiful. People have had a way of saying that history repeats itself – that time is a flat circle, that everything that has happened will continue to happen over and over again. People and philosophers and poets alike agree that history is stale and stagnant – and perhaps it is, but every now and then something so off happens that the world is shaken to the core, and we are introduced to surprises. It might be a meteor shower, it might be the dinosaurs going extinct, it might be a mighty tsunami or a bloody mass shooting – History has ever been full of surprises and that is essentially what has made it so unpredictable. Its shock value is deep rooted in its unpredictability and shall remain to be – History isn’t done with us. By the time we are all History, this world will have seen a horde of the surprises to come!
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