History jokes, famous anecdotes and short funny stories.


Funny anecdotes and short stories are a great source of examples in public speeches. This website contains short funny stories, clean jokes and humorous legends of kings and queens, politicians, famous literary figures and artists from many books and sources. The styles of writers from different time periods was preserved - they often enhance the stories in an amusing way. For some of these short jokes explanations had to be provided. Enjoy!

Thomas Edison's cigars 
Edison himself has played many a practical joke
upon his employees, and in the early phonograph days
he enjoyed many a laugh on them with the aid of his
"talking machine." Sometimes, however, the joke
was on him, as was instanced by the "fake cigar"
story, which was a popular Edison anecdote twenty
odd years ago. Edison was always an inveterate
smoker, and used to keep a number of boxes of cigars
in his room, and these were a constant object of interest
to his associates. First one man, then another,
would enter the room, ask Edison some trivial question,
and when leaving would manage, unseen, to insert
his hand in one of the boxes and annex three or
four choice cigars. Edison began to suspect something
of the kind, and one day he called on his tobacconist, explained
things, and got the man to fix up some fearful
"smokes," consisting of old bits of rag, tea leaves, and
shavings, and worth about two dollars a barrel. These
were done up in attractive-looking boxes, and delivered
to the laboratory. Nothing happened, however; there
was a falling off in the number of Edison's visitors,
but no casualties were reported. Then one day Edison
again called at the store, and inquired of his dealer if
he had forgotten to send up the fake cigars. "Why,
Mr. Edison," replied the amazed tobacconist, "I sent
up ten boxes of the worst concoctions I could make
two months ago. Ain't your men through with them
yet?" Then Edison made a rapid calculation, divided
the number of cigars by his daily allowance, and was
forced to the painful conclusion that he had consumed
those "life destroyers" himself. There and then he
gave a big order for his usual brand, and his cigars
disappeared once more with their accustomed celerity.


From Thomas Alva Edison: Sixty Years of an Inventor's Life by Francis Arthur Jones
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Theological argument 
Charles V, King of Spain, at the suggestion of Hernado Cortez, entertained the idea of digging a canal to connect the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. In 1567, Philip II, the successor of Charles V, sent a party of engineers to survey the Nicaraguan route, but the report was unfavorable to the success of the work. Impressed by the representations made in favor of a canal, notwithstanding the unfavorable report, the king, in his perplexity, is said to have laid the matter before the Dominican Friars, who, desirous of obeying the mandates of the king, were, in their ignorance of the problem, in probably a greater state of perplexity, so they turned to the Scriptures for consolation and relief, hitting upon the following verse, which they concluded had a direct reference to a canal: "What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder". With this injunction from the Holy Writ, they reported against the undertaking. This was a sufficiently good argument for King Philip to abandon further consideration of the subject, which was thereafter put aside and not again considered, for death was to be the penalty for any one who sought a better route across the Isthmus than the paved road which had been constructed from Porto Bello to Panama.
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The legend of sir Isaac Newton and the Apple (Newton's law) 
SIR ISAAC NEWTON AND THE APPLE

One day in autumn Sir Isaac was lying on the grass under an apple tree and thinking, thinking, thinking. Suddenly an apple that had grown ripe on its branch fell to the ground by his side

"What made that apple fall?" he asked himself.

"It fell because its stem would no longer hold it to its branch," was his first thought.

But Sir Isaac was not satisfied with this answer.

"Why did it fall toward the ground ? Why should it not fall some other way just as well?" he asked.

"All heavy things fall to the ground but why do they ? Because they are heavy. That is not a good reason. For then we may ask why is anything heavy? Why is one thing heavier than another? "

When he had once begun to think about this he did not stop until he had reasoned it all out. Millions and millions of people had seen apples fall, but it was left for Sir Isaac Newton to ask why they fall. He explained it in this way:

"Every object draws every other object toward it.

The more matter an object contains the harder it draws.

The nearer an object is to another the harder it draws.

The harder an object draws other objects, the heavier it is said to be.

The earth is many millions of times heavier than an apple ; so it draws the apple toward it millions and millions of times harder than the apple can draw the other way.

The earth is millions of times heavier than any object near to or upon its surface ; so it draws every such object toward it.

This is why things fall, as we say, toward the earth.

While we know that every object draws every other object, we cannot know why it does so. We can only give a name to the force that causes this. We call that force GRAVITATION.

It is gravitation that causes the apple to fall.

It is gravitation that makes things have weight.

It is gravitation that keeps all things in their proper places.

Suppose there was no such force as gravitation, would an apple fall to the ground ? Suppose that gravitation did not draw objects toward the earth, what would happen ?

To you who, like Sir Isaac Newton, are always asking "Why?" and " How?" these questions will give something to think about.

From Thirty More Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin

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Isaac Newton and his dog 
Wednesday, March 26, 2008, 12:28 AM - British humor, history of England, Dogs, Cats and other Animals featured in Jokes
Posted by Court Jester
While Newton was attending divine service in a winter
morning, he had left in his study a favourite little
dog called Diamond. Upon returning from chapel
he found that it had overturned a lighted taper on
his desk, which set fire to several papers on which
he had recorded the results of some optical experiments.
These papers are said to have contained the
labours of many years, and it has been stated that
when Mr. Newton perceived the magnitude of his loss,
he exclaimed, " Oh, Diamond, Diamond, little do you
know the mischief you have done me!"

From The Life of Sir Isaac Newton by David Brewster


See also:
Sir Isaac Newton and the Apple
Dog training ideas
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Lord Byron's gift 
Monday, March 24, 2008, 10:59 PM - British humor, history of England, Jokes and anecdotes of famous people
Posted by Court Jester
Byron once gave his publisher, John Murray, a splendidly bound Bible, and the recipient was proud of it until he happened to discover that his friend donor had altered the last verse of the 18th chapter of St. John (Now Barrabas was a robber) so as to read: "Now Barrabas was a publisher."

From The poetical works of lord Byron, with illustr. by K. Halswelle
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