Most American history classes get the basics right – they tell the story of the first settlers who came to America, how the Revolution took shape because of oppressive taxation, and how America eventually became a global power.
But despite the broad accuracy of our history books, we’re also taught some lies in class!
Today, let’s clear up the record and break down 10 of the biggest lies told about American history:
10. Columbus Discovered America
For starters, the tale that Christopher Columbus found America is technically false. He actually landed in the Caribbean, not on the East Coast as many Americans think!
While Columbus is still a great explorer and is credited with being the first European to find North America as a collective continent, he didn’t exactly land on Virginia’s shores.
9. The Civil War Was About State’s Rights
Furthermore, lots of Americans believe that the Civil War was because the Union side of the country was attempting to oppress the southern states and take away their rights. This is flatly false – in fact, Abraham Lincoln himself stated that the reason for war was because the South was enslaving people.
Indeed, the Confederacy did want increased rights… to enslave human beings. This was the sole philosophical and moral argument that formed the heart of the Civil War, plain and simple.
8. Witches Were Burned in Salem
The Salem Witch Trials have a spooky history for Massachusetts residents in particular. Although this period of history has been a great source of fictional ideas over the years, no witches were actually burned at the trials.
Their real fates were still pretty gruesome, however – most accused witches were either hanged or crushed to death with stones.
7. The Declaration of Independence was Signed on July 4th
We Americans celebrate the Declaration of Independence on Independence Day, which is July 4th every year. However, this date is more of a convenient compromise than historically accurate.
Indeed, the declaration was drafted on July 2 and revised on July 4. But It wasn’t fully signed and ratified until August 2, 1776!
6. America Invented Cars!
With America’s fixation on the automobile, you’d think that we were the ones to create cars!
Unfortunately, the original car was invented in the late 1800s in Europe by a pair of European engineers called Karl Benz and Emile Levassor. At least we definitely made cars stylish.
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5. Walt Disney Drew Mickey Mouse
Walt Disney is an American icon, no doubt about it. But he didn’t actually draw the mascot of his now global company.
In fact, Mickey Mouse was originally drawn by Ub Iwerks, Disney’s favorite animator.
4. Pocahontas and John Smith Were in Love
There’s an old American tale that a Native American Princess fell in love with a colonist: their names, of course, were Pocahontas and John Smith.
In reality, while both of these figures likely existed, and while their friendship may have saved the Jamestown colony, Pocahontas would have been 12 years old at the time of the tale.
It’s more likely that she formed a father-daughter bond with John Smith, if that was really his original name!
3. Thomas Edison Invented the Light Bulb
Edison gets credit for a lot of inventions, but the lightbulb is one he should not.
While he was technically the one who secured the patent in 1880, it was actually a man named Warren de la Rue who created the lightbulb about 40 years earlier in 1840.
2. Thanksgiving… All Of It
Look, we all love turkey and the tastier parts of each Thanksgiving celebration. But the roots of the holiday are likely grounded in fiction more than in fact.
It’s unlikely that the original settlers celebrated with the Native Americans in any capacity in the fall after their arrival, although the Native Americans may have assisted them with growing crops at first.
1. The Founding Fathers Were All Christians
Lastly, many Americans believe that the Founding Fathers were Christian to a man.
In reality, several key American Founding Fathers, such as Thomas Jefferson, were “deists”.
While they still believed in God, they weren’t sure if the biblical tales they had been told were 100% accurate, and tended to believe more in the spirit of the Bible than the word.
Well, we’re a little surprised at some of those… It goes to show you how important actual research is instead of repeating the classic tales we read about in history books or hear passed down through generations.
Don't forget to take all the things you hear, read and see with a grain of salt, and be sure to do your own homework on important topics!
Thank you for reading, stay strong patriots.
Justin | FamTeeWorld
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