Nothing’s quite so American as apple pie and mythologizing our country. From The American Revolution to our presidents to the Wild West, most of everything we’ve learned at school or through movies is a lie. Or at the very least, an oversimplification. Sometimes these little white lies can be fun trivia (did you know cowboys didn’t wear cowboy hats?) but sometimes they become fixtures in American culture that warp our perception of politics and identity. 

We’ve made demigods of the Founding Fathers…even though we’re not quite sure who we’re even talking about. Depending on which historian you talk to, the group can be between 99 to 7 people. How often do we hear pundits or politicians talking about “what the Founding Fathers would have wanted” as if they were a monolith and not a group of people who made a lot of compromises and had a bunch of disagreements? Read about this and others below…

CRACKED.COM MYTH: Cowboys are uniquely American The original cowboys were Mexican cattlemen, known as vaqueros, who predate America cowboys. They taught future American cowboys how to do everything that's now considered classic cowboy, and eventually one in three cowboys were Mexican vaqueros.

The Founding Fathers were Christians.

CRACKED.COM MYTH: The Founding Fathers were Christians. No matter who you include as a Founding Father, not all of them were Christian. Deism (which prioritizes human experience and rationality over religious dogma and texts) had a huge influence during their time.

Source: Britannica 

The Pilgrims definitely landed on Plymouth Rock

CRACKED.COM MYTH: The Pilgrims definitely landed on Plymouth Rock It wasn't until 121 years after William Bradford & Co. set foot on land that there was any mention of the granite. A son of a Pilgrim told of its signification, but the only surviving firsthand accounts make no mention of it.

Source: Smithsonian

The Supreme Court has always had nine justices

CRACKED.COM MYTH: The Supreme Court has always had nine justices The number of justices is set by Congress. At its founding, the Supreme Court only had six members. To help cement anti-slavery, Abraham Lincoln helped to add a tenth seat. In the 1930s, Franklin D. Roosevelt even proposed raising the number to 15.

Source: HISTORY

Betsy Ross created the first American flag

CRACKED.COM MYTH: Betsy Ross created the first American flag There's no evidence to suggest this, aside from her grandson's account. Historians have confirmed that she made flags for the Pennsylvania State Navy Board.

Source: History

Martin Luther King Jr. was a universally beloved leader during his life.

CRACKED.COM MYTH: Martin Luther King Jr. was a beloved leader during his life. King was an incredibly famous yet divisive figure. At the year of his death, he had an unfavorable rating of 63%. The FBI even attempted to blackmail him to commit suicide. Within civil rights circles, he was criticized for both being too radical and not radical enough.

Source: NYT and The Sword and the Shield 

Immigrants' last names were Americanized on Ellis Island

CRACKED.COM MYTH: Immigrants' last names were Americanized on Ellis Island Officials at Ellis Island didn't record names on paper. Changes to names were made later, by the immigrants themselves.

Source: NYPL

Christopher Columbus discovered the U.S.

CRACKED.COM MYTH: Christopher Columbus discovered the U.S. Even ignoring that indigenous people had been in America for over 20,000 years before Columbus, Leif Erikson is believed to have led the first European expedition to North America...500 years before Columbus was even born. Columbus never even stepped on U.S. soil. Не went to several Caribbean islands, and Central and South America.

MYTH: The United States is exceptional.

CRACKED.COM MYTH: The United States is exceptional. The American character is distinctive in some regards (like in its religiosity, optimistic individualism, and disregard for other countries' interests) but these qualities don't consistently set the American people apart from the rest of the world.

Source: Pew Research

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