Three stories of people being absolute legends

Andrew Carnegie

In 1898, Spain and America signed the Treaty of Paris of 1898 and ended the Spanish-American War. (Well, we call it the Spanish-American War in the US, but “a more accurate name would be the Spanish-Cuban-Puerto Rican-Philippine-American War.”)

Also, why are so many treaties in US history signed in Paris? Two others I can name off the top of my head after flash-studying for APUSH last week are the Treaty of Paris 1763 (French and Indian War) and the Treaty of Paris 1783 (Revolutionary War). Is there like a place in Paris that’s perfect for signing treaties??

Several things happened in this treaty, but one of them was that America bought the Phillipines from Spain for 20 million dollars. A lot of people at the time were against this exchange because they opposed American imperialism in general, but they were against it for very different reasons.

Some people, like Senator Bill Tillman of South Carolina, fought against imperialism because they disliked that America was annexing territory with populations that were not white and therefore “inferior.” Others, like Andrew Carnegie and Mark Twain, opposed it because they hated that America was forcing its control onto the Philippines.

Before taking US history this year, I think the only reason I knew Andrew Carnegie’s name was because of Carnegie Hall, but now I know that he was able to get a music hall named after him because he had made a ton of money by making a ton of steel.

While Twain is probably more well-known today, Carnegie was way wealthier. He was so wealthy and so against imperialism that he literally went to President McKinley and offered to give the Philippines 20 million dollars so that the it could buy its independence from the US. His proposal was not taken.

It would be like if during the American Revolution, a British lord paid a visit to King George III and offered to bankroll America’s independence. And then when the king said no, it wasn’t because he thought the lord was delusional, it was simply because the king wasn’t interested in letting the colonies go.

I couldn’t figure it out exactly, but it seems like there’s about five thousand people in the world who would be able to make this offer now if you adjust for inflation. According to the Inflation Calculator I used, 20 million dollars in 1898 would be 617,800,000 dollars today. That’s over half a billion dollars.

Sorry, low-level millionaires, your mansions and yachts are nice, but you’re not actually rich until you can legitimately offer to buy a country’s independence.The value of a statistical life is about 10 million dollars.

Source: How to Hide an Empire by Daniel Immerwahr

Charles “Pete” Conrad Jr.

(These next two are both about astronauts. I think being an astronaut is possibly the hardest and most selective job in the world. Maybe either that or being the US president. )

Charles “Pete” Conrad (where does the Pete come from?) was one of the three members on the Apollo 12 space mission. He was the third man to walk on the moon.

Neil Armstrong’s moon landing quote is the one we all know, but I think Pete’s is arguably better. As he was getting out of the lunar module (AKA the part of the rocket that actually goes all the way), he made a joke about being shorter than Armstrong. His first words on the moon were, “Whoopie! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that’s a long one for me.”

And then as he’s doing his space missions, he’s just like goofily singing to himself.

117:08:42 Conrad: Here I come. Dee dee, dee dum. (Long Pause) Dum dum, dum dum.

117:11:17 Conrad: Dee dum, dee dum. (Long Pause)

117:57:12 Conrad: Dum dum. Dum dum, dum dum. Boy, do I like to run up here. This is neat!

That’s all copy and pasted from the official Apollo 12 transcript.

The Planet Money podcast episode that I linked below includes audio of this, and it’s one of my favorite pieces of audio ever. I laughed so hard when I first heard it, and I made several of my friends listen to it the next day. It still makes me laugh when I think about it.

I can’t even think of a good comparison for this. It’s like if a Olympic gold medalist hummed “dum di dumdumdum” while standing on the pedstal.Or if a Nobel Prize winner said that that while going up to accept their award. Or if a basketball player did that while sinking a free-throw during the last seconds of a tied playoff game.

But it’s still not even close. I mean, he was walking! On! The! Moon!

Sources:Episode 933: Find The Helium” on Planet Money (go to 1:22 for the audio I’m talking), “Apollo 12 is NASA’s Forgotten Mission To The Moon” on NPR

Michael Collins

Michael Collins was one of the members on the Apollo 11 mission (AKA the one in the first two people walked on the moon). While Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin went onto the moon, he stayed in the lunar module. When I first read that he didn’t get to walk on the moon, I was like dang, that’s awful.

SIMON: Do you ever look up at the moon nowadays?

COLLINS: Not on purpose, no. I’ll be walking down, shuffling down the sidewalk after dark. And all of a sudden, I’ll kind of look up and go, whoa.

SIMON: (Laughter).

COLLINS: Oh, I went there one time.

Dude, what an absolute legend.

What’s are names in history that you get mixed up? Besides the Treaty of Paris’s, my mind also connects the Ottoman Empire with Otto von Bismark even though they’re not related. Because what are the chances that an important man named “Otto” is not connected to the important empire named “Ottoman”?
Do you have any favorite pieces of audio (song lyric, movie clip, podcast sound bite)?
Do you have a story about someone doing something absolutely legendary? Actually, I would totally be open to animal stories as well. So someone/something.

P.P.S. The picture is of Pete Conrad on the moon.

2 thoughts on “Three stories of people being absolute legends”

  1. We learned about Andrew Carnegie in APUSH and I’m pretty sure your blog post gave me way more information than my teacher did. Said teacher addressed why so many treaties are signed and Paris, and apparently it’s historically established as a place for peace meetings because France is usually involved in global affairs and conflicts without being too overbearing (ahem US and UK).
    I think picking asparagus is also a very hard job.
    Wow I wish the other two astronauts could’ve walked on the moon before Neil Armstrong because the first words on the moon would be way cooler. Dang, imagine casually forgetting going to the moon.
    I have a legendary story of my dog Bailey. I was taking him for a walk and he was sniffing the grass. He heard another dog barking and looked up really fast and ran right into a stop sign. It was amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahaha hey, but your teacher explained this Paris problem so they win. Okay, that makes sense. Also, I just looked the World War treaties up to check, and WWI treaty was Treaty of Versailles and WWII were Paris Peace Treaties.
      Ohh, I completely forgot this while writing.
      Hahaha, I agree. I wonder if Neil Armstrong had to submit his ideas of first words before going. I know!!! Literally so legendary.
      HAHA, this made me laugh. Ah dang, what a good story.

      Liked by 1 person

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