Elisha Graves Otis (1811)

By 1852, Otis had already devised several inventions, including a safety brake for trains. While setting up a factory that year, he developed an automatic safety device to prevent heavy machinery from falling if a rope broke while the machinery was being hoisted. The first fail-safe, fall-safe passenger elevator quickly followed. It made possible the construction of skyscrapers, greatly altering the landscape of modern cities. What daring publicity stunt helped launch sales of Otis’s elevators? Discuss
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Myrna Loy (1905)

Originally typecast in exotic roles, often as a vamp, film actress Myrna Loy soon earned praise for her witty sophistication in 1934’s The Thin Man. By 1936, she was a top box-office draw. Offscreen, she was never associated with Hollywood glamour or scandal. Instead, she was one of the few actors to protest against the House Committee on Un-American Activities during the McCarthy era. Her outspokenness on another issue resulted in her inclusion on what world leader’s personal blacklist? Discuss
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Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (10 BCE)

The nephew of Tiberius, Claudius became the Roman emperor unexpectedly, after Caligula was murdered. Sickly, unattractive, and scholarly, he tended to disfavor the upper classes and cater to the freedmen. He expanded the frontiers, invading Britain in 43 CE. He spent lavishly on public works and extended Roman citizenship throughout the empire. Having executed his scheming third wife, he married his niece, who then likely poisoned him. What modern diagnoses might explain his lifelong ill health? Discuss
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Milton Friedman (1912)

Friedman was an American economist and a leading US advocate of monetarism, the belief that a nation’s money supply is the chief determinant of its economy. He wrote numerous books and was a frequent television commentator and magazine columnist, which made him one of the most publicly familiar US economists. Friedman served as an adviser to US presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. To what South American country did he provide economic advice following a military coup?
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Smedley Darlington Butler (1881)

Born to a Quaker family in Pennsylvania, Butler joined the US Marines as a teenager. He was decorated for bravery and leadership and advanced through the ranks, but after retiring, he became a proponent of isolationism and an outspoken critic of the government. He believed that he and the military had been used to further the business interests of wealthy Americans under the pretense of defending the country. According to legend, whose long-lost amputated arm did Butler once locate? Discuss
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