There are many history myths that just won’t go away. Some times, a myth is just garbled truth, mispoken facts and disordered details. Other times, a myth is simply guessing, or even deception, touted as historical fact. Even some history teachers are unwittingly teaching some of these myths as facts. From quirky inventors to red-blooded patriots, the annals of this country’s history are filled with wondrous tales and exploits of those before us. And, of course, more than a few myths have snuck their way in, as well.
Basically, we’re not getting better. And while debunking individual myths can’t solve the problem, it’s not a bad appetizer for anyone curious about our compelling. Here’s a list of the 10 Most Enduring Myths in American History.
1. Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride
It is one of the most iconic scenes of the Revolutionary War. The image of Paul Revere on horseback, shouting “The British are coming!” turned him into one of the country’s greatest patriots. But this moment has little to do with reality.
In fact, the valiant Paul Revere on horseback can only be found in a famous poem titled “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, which appeared 85 years after the ride itself. Obviously, since he was a poet and not a historian, Wadsworth took significant liberties in order to portray Revere as heroically as possible.
Truth be told, Revere’s ride wasn’t seen as a big deal in his own time. It wasn’t even mentioned in his obituary. For starters, he didn’t do it alone. As he went along his route, he was joined by several others who helped him warn of the arriving British forces. We know of at least two other men who accompanied him: Samuel Prescott and William Dawes.