6 Historical Last Names in American History
Given the fact that most of us Americans have a European background, it is no surprise that many of our last names are European. But why is it that people from other backgrounds have these names as well? History can be strange and intriguing, as shown by these 6 historical last names in American history.
The name Jackson is heard all the time. Andrew Jackson was a president whose face is on the $20 bill, so many Americans see his face everyday. Michael Jackson was the ‘’King of Pop’’ who passed away over 10 years ago. A couple of little-known facts about the last name Jackson:
- It was common among African-American soldiers in Australia during WWII. As a result, it quickly became a slang term used by the Australians.
- Slave masters weren’t particularly imaginative in giving their slaves new names, so a lot of them were named after Andrew Jackson, who himself was a slave owner.
Kennedy and Lincoln
Kennedy and Lincoln will forever be linked in the American psyche. The man who freed the slaves was of course Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy. President Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln. Both were elected to congress in years ending in 46, and both were president in years ending in 60.
Both were shot by men who were born in the year ending in 39. Lincoln was shot in a theatre and his assassin was caught in a storehouse. Kennedy was shot by a man in a storehouse and his assassin was caught in a theatre. The number of strange coincidences is one of America’s weirdest tales – read more about it here.
The most famous name in all of American history is Washington, which of course refers to George Washington. Newly-independent nations like to honor their founding fathers, and we in America really did go all the way when it came to naming places after him. There is the capital, and then there is the state, which always confuses foreigners. There are 29 cities named after Washington, 24 post offices, and much more!
Muhammed Ali is recognized as being one of the greatest boxers of all time, having won the title on 3 separate occasions. He was known just as much for his talking as his boxing and was one of the most famous people on the planet at his peak. His original name was Cassius Clay, which he changed because he thought it was a ‘’slave name’’ which is interesting since Cassius Clay was a Kentucky politician who worked for the abolition of slavery in the 19th century. And the Muhammed Ali of Egypt was an Albanian Ottoman who was regarded as the founder of modern Egypt in the early 19th century who captured slaves and exploited them. So… Muhammed Ali the boxer is recognized as a great boxer, but as a historian, well, we just don’t understand some of his perspectives I suppose.
John Henry is part of the American folk tradition, having reputed to be a railroad worker whose job it was to make holes for explosives inside of railroad tunnels. He is reckoned to be an African-American who worked in West Virginia from 1870 to 1872. A ballad was composed in his honor as a result of him competing against a machine to drill holes, after which he died from exhaustion. Dwayne Johnson recently played him in a film called John Henry and the Statesmen. A very famous racehorse called John Henry raced in the early 1980’s and became famous for his late finishes. Patrick Henry was a governor of Virginia who is famous for uttering the line ‘’Give me liberty, or give me death’’. He certainly didn’t provide any liberty for his slaves!
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