18 Common Myths That Tricked American Generations

As children, we’re told lots of different stories regarding our history and politics, and some of these we’ve grown up believing. This may have been because trusted adults, such as parents and teachers, told us these stories. Here are 18 myths Americans grew up believing. 

The 1929 Wall Street Crash Suicides

Photo Credit: Jakub Krechowicz/Shutterstock.

There were not a mass number of suicides after the 1929 Wall Street crash. Instead, the number reached two. This is backed up by Best Life, which writes, “There were only two suicides by jumping from tall buildings after the Wall Street crash, and one of them was an elderly female clerk named Hulda Borowski.” 

Richard Nixon as an Environmentalist

Photo Credit: mark reinstein/Shutterstock.

Richard Nixon was not an environmentalist. Instead, he passed legislation such as the EPA and the Safe Drinking Water Act. This shows contradictions in his approach and statements on environmental issues. These acts were mainly passed because of the environmental state of the country.  

Pocahontas and John Smith’s Romance

Photo Credit: Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock.

This is a myth that romanticizes the relationship between Native Americans and those who colonized the United States. The romance was unlikely to have happened, as Pocahontas was just a child. While there was a relationship, it would have been a friendship. Also, Pocahontas was just a nickname and her real name may have been Matoaka or Amonute. 

Thomas Edison Invented the Light Bulb 

Photo Credit: Everett Collection/Shutterstock.

Thomas Edison played a role in the patenting and commercialization of the light bulb, but he did not actually invent it. The actual invention of the light bulb predated Edison by decades, and other people contributed to its development. It’s a complete myth that Edison was the sole inventor.

“The War of the Worlds” Broadcast Panic 

Photo Credit: BrAt82/Shutterstock.

The radio broadcast by Orson Welles in 1938 did not cause as much widespread panic as everyone believed. There is very limited evidence that the public became hysterical and thought there was a legitimate attack. This is just an exaggeration of the retelling of the event. 

Betsy Ross Designed the First American Flag

Photo Credit: eurobanks/Shutterstock.

There is not enough historical evidence to confirm that Betsy Ross designed the first American flag. For example, the Smithsonian writes, “No record exists of a flag being discussed around this time. While many Americans still believe that Betsy Ross was responsible for the first American flag, and while it makes for a nice story, sadly, it is most likely false.” 

Thanksgiving’s Harmonious Feast 

Photo Credit: Drazen Zigic/Shutterstock.

The narrative that Pilgrims and Native Americans shared a peaceful meal is completely fictionalized. There were large amounts of conflict and hardship between both parties and it’s extremely unlikely they would have sat down and eaten a meal together. This mythical story doesn’t show the complexities of their relationship. 

Cars Invented in America

Photo Credit: Pressmaster/Shutterstock.

There is a misconception that the automobile was an American invention. There were actually earlier developments that came from Europe, and the U.S. would have built on them. Henry Ford played a bigger role in popularizing the car than inventing it. 

Abraham Lincoln’s Opposition to Slavery

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Abraham Lincoln had more of a pragmatic approach to slavery and the Union. His views on the matter were always evolving and they would usually depend on his political strategies. It’s a complete myth that Lincoln was solely responsible for the abolition of slavery. 

The Founding Fathers as Christians

Photo Credit: fitzcrittle/Shutterstock.

There were varied religious beliefs among the Founding Fathers, and they weren’t all Christians. It has caused misinterpretations of their religious affiliations and intentions. For example, many believe George Washington was a member of the Episcopal Church. The founders all had their own unique beliefs when it came to religion.   

Albert Einstein’s Poor Math Skills

Photo Credit: MarkoV87/Shutterstock.

It’s a myth that Albert Einstein struggled with math. To be a physician, Einstein would’ve had to be very good at math. According to Britannica, the myth’s origin comes from 1935, when a rabbi at Princeton showed Einstein a newspaper clipping, and he said, “Before I was fifteen, I had mastered differential and integral calculus.” 

Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride

Photo Credit: f11photo/Shutterstock.

Paul Revere was not actually known to take a midnight ride on horseback, where he shouted “The British are coming!” during the Revolutionary War. This myth was actually a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and this situation wouldn’t have been as dramatic as it sounded at the time. 

The Declaration of Independence on July 4th

Photo Credit: spatuletail/Shutterstock.

The actual voting and adoption of independence didn’t start until July 1st. Independence Day is only on July 4th because this is the date on the revised document. It wasn’t until August 2nd that the declaration was actually signed. Five delegates signed it even later than this and some didn’t sign it at all.  

Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase Negotiation

Photo Credit: christianthiel.net/Shutterstock.

There’s a common misconception that Thomas Jefferson actually negotiated the Louisiana Purchase. It involved other key figures, such as Robert Livingston and James Monroe. This purchase took place in 1803 and meant the U.S. was able to acquire 827,000 miles of land west of the Mississippi River.  

The War of 1812 Was Motivated Solely by British Aggression

Photo Credit: Everett Collection/Shutterstock.

The U.S. declared war on Great Britain in 1812, but this was not purely for their aggression. There were also other motives for this war, such as Americans wanting to expand into Canada. The relationship between America and Great Britain became incredibly complex, and this is what resulted in war.  

Early American Railroad Innovation

Photo Credit: jgorzynik/Shutterstock.

The original ideas for the American railroad came from British technologies, and the U.S. adapted them. It was thought that the U.S. was quite late when it came to the surge of train innovation. The evolution of transportation came from horse-drawn carriages to steam locomotives, and it completely changed America.

The Salem Witch Trials Were Driven by Actual Witchcraft

Photo Credit: Heidi Besen/Shutterstock.

The trials in Salem were a result of mass hysteria, fear, and social tensions, but not actually witchcraft. It was also a myth that the witches were burned at the stake. For example, History writes, “The myth of burnings at the stake in Salem is most likely inspired by European witch trials, where execution by fire was a disturbingly common practice.” 

The Wild West Was a Lawless and Violent Frontier

Photo Credit: Nong2/Shutterstock.

The “Wild West” period is often seen as a violent and lawless time in history. However, historical records show that some towns may have had law enforcement in place and maintained community standards. This myth has come from the media, which has created a more dramatic and often less accurate picture of the Wild West.

Read More: 20 Things We Did When We Were Young That We Regret Now

Photo Credit: Kues/Shutterstock.

It’s easy to say hindsight is 20/20, but what advice would you really give your younger self? Here are 20 things that most people did when they were young that they regret today.

20 Things We Did When We Were Young That We Regret Now

17 Things That Used to Be Highly Respected But Isn’t Anymore

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Many things in the world used to be well-respected before turning into complete jokes for various reasons. An internet survey recently asked people, “What is something that was once highly respected but is now a complete joke?” Here are the top 20 answers:

17 Things That Used to Be Highly Respected But Isn’t Anymore

17 Fairy Tales That Are Now Considered Racist

Photo Credit: kurhan/Shutterstock.

While fairy tales weave magical narratives that span generations, many emerge from historical and cultural contexts tinged with biases. Hiding in many of these tales, racial undertones can be found. Let’s look at 17 fairy tales that have deeper implications.

17 Fairy Tales That Are Now Considered Racist

17 Things Society Can No Longer Do Because Gen Z Said So

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Gen Z, our digital-native, trendsetting generation, is making waves in the cultural sea, steering the ship of societal norms in fresh and unexpected directions. As they charter new territories, there are certain practices they’d rather we say goodbye to. Curious? Let’s take a look at 17 things the rest of us can no longer do because Gen Z said so.

17 Things Society Can No Longer Do Because Gen Z Said So

18 Common Traits Found in Adults Who Had Unhappy Childhoods

Photo Credit: fizkes/Shutterstock.

Being a parent is a hard job, so even those who are truly trying their best will often miss the mark on creating the best environment for their children. Unfortunately, this means that many of us grow up with far-from-perfect childhoods that affect us into adulthood. Here are 18 common traits found in adults who had unhappy childhoods.

18 Common Traits Found in Adults Who Had Unhappy Childhoods