12 American Myths and the Truth Behind Them

We’ve all heard those classic stories and “facts” that seem to be part of our history. But here’s the thing – a lot of what we think we know about America isn’t quite true. It’s time to take a closer look at some of the biggest myths that have been passed down over the years.

From historical legends to everyday beliefs, these 12 American myths might surprise you when you learn the real story behind them.

George Washington’s wooden teeth

Image Credit: augustfinster from Pixabay

George Washington did have false teeth, but they weren’t made of wood. His dentures were actually made from ivory, gold, and human and animal teeth. The wooden teeth myth probably started because his ivory dentures got stained over time, making them look grainy and wood-like.

The Liberty Bell cracked on July 4, 1776

Image Credit: HeatherAnne Norbury from Pixabay

The Liberty Bell didn’t crack on Independence Day. It cracked much later, probably in the 1840s. The bell became a symbol of freedom long after the Revolutionary War.

Columbus proved the Earth was round

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People already knew the Earth was round way before Columbus. Ancient Greeks figured this out over 2,000 years ago. Columbus actually thought the Earth was much smaller than it is.

Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey as the national bird

Image Credit: Brett Sayles from Pexels

Franklin never suggested the turkey as America’s national bird. He did write a letter praising the turkey as a “respectable bird.” But this was in a private letter criticizing the design of the eagle on a military badge. The bald eagle was chosen as the national symbol in 1782.

Pilgrims wore black and white with big buckles

Image Credit: H. Hach from Pixabay

Pilgrims didn’t dress in black and white with big buckles. They wore colorful clothes that were normal for their time. The black and white outfit with buckles became popular much later, in the 1800s. Artists started drawing Pilgrims this way, and the image stuck.

Also read: 9 American Slang Words That Puzzle Foreigners

The Wild West was constantly violent

Image Credit: Klaus Stebani from Pixabay

The “Wild West” wasn’t as wild as movies make it seem. Most towns had laws and were pretty peaceful. Gunfights and showdowns were actually rare. Many cowboys were just regular workers doing a tough job.

Betsy Ross designed the first American flag

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There’s no solid proof that Betsy Ross designed the first American flag. This story only became popular about 100 years after the Revolutionary War. Ross did make flags, but the story of her designing the first one is probably just a legend.

Paul Revere shouted “The British are coming!”

Image Credit: Brian Fakhoury from Pixabay

Paul Revere didn’t shout “The British are coming!” during his famous ride. He was trying to be quiet to avoid getting caught. Also, many colonists still considered themselves British at the time. Revere probably said something like “The Regulars are coming out.”

Salem witch trials involved burning at the stake

Image by Gioele Fazzeri from Pixabay

No one was burned at the stake during the Salem witch trials. Most of the people found guilty were hanged. One man was pressed to death with heavy stones. The idea of burning witches comes from European witch hunts, not American ones.

The first Thanksgiving was between Pilgrims and Native Americans

Image Credit: Element5 Digital from Unsplash

The first Thanksgiving wasn’t really like the story we often hear. It wasn’t a planned feast between Pilgrims and Native Americans. The Pilgrims did have a harvest celebration, and some Wampanoag people joined. But it wasn’t called Thanksgiving, and it wasn’t a yearly tradition right away.

Einstein failed math as a student

Image Credit: Jackie Ramirez from Pixabay

Albert Einstein didn’t fail math in school. This is a myth that somehow got popular. Einstein was actually really good at math from a young age. He did have some trouble in school, but not with math. This myth probably makes people feel better about their own math struggles.

Abraham Lincoln freed all the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation

Image Credit: Mark Thomas from Pixabay

The Emancipation Proclamation didn’t free all the slaves right away. It only applied to states that had left the Union during the Civil War. Slaves in Union states weren’t freed by this document. All slaves were officially freed later, with the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

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Mary Apurong

Mary Apurong is an experienced editor and ghostwriter who enjoys writing and reading. She loves researching topics related to life and creating content on quotes, gardening, food, travel, crafts, and DIY. Mary spends her free time doing digital art and watching documentaries.

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