Myths of the American Revolution & the Fourth of July

This month we celebrate the birth of our Nation on July 4, 1776. The origins of the United States of America are a fascinating study in human nature, idealization, warfare, and more. Not surprisingly, the stories that are handed down have become a mix of myth and history. This month’s National Geographic highlights some of the most perpetual myths of the Fourth of July. Read more on the article here.

  1. The Declaration of Independence was Signed July 4.
  2. Paul Revere rode Solo
  3. July 4, 1776, the colonists partied so hard it cracked the Liberty Bell
  4. Patriots all flocked to fight for freedom (considering I have Tories in my background, I know it ain’t true)
  5. The Declaration of Independence Holds Secret Messages
  6. John Adams Died Thinking of Thomas Jefferson
  7. America United Against the British
  8. Betsy Ross Made the First American Flag
  9. Native Americans Sided with the British

To find the real story behind all of these myths, read this article in National Geographic.

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2 thoughts on “Myths of the American Revolution & the Fourth of July

  1. Jim Wheeler

    An interesting article indeed. The standard, dry American elementary school treatment of history fails to do justice to the subject. Those historical figures were real, breathing, bleeding and flawed human beings. This post prompted me to look up something in my wife’s genealogy: one of her ancestors was a Quaker minister, one Christopher Sauer II (1721-1784), who refused to sign an oath of loyalty to the Patriots and the new nation. As a result his property, farm land and a house worth some 27,000 British pounds, were confiscated and he finished the rest of his life in poverty. It didn’t help that at least one of his sons was suspected of aiding the British.

    Those were tough times and remaining neutral was not an option.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Lockett Post author

      There was a similar story in this month’s Smithsonian that I am sure you saw. One of my favorite things about history and historical figures is that these huge, larger than life people that we think of as giants were human and flawed – Augustus Caesar couldn’t keep his wild daughter under control (and had to expel her after she was caught in a temple were her lover du jour), John Adams’ son was a severe alcoholic that abandoned his family, Martin Luther King Jr was a notorious womanizer… however these people also did great things. Humans beings aren’t ever perfect… ever.
      I think that one of the things that strikes fear in the heart of history teachers (leading to ‘dry’ history tellings) is that history (especially American history) is a political battleground. I’m not sure how much you have followed the textbook battles in Texas, but they have regularly tried here to outlaw or ban potentially ‘negative’ topics of American History, such as Thomas Jefferson’s relationship with Sally Hemmings or Jackson’s genocide of American Indians.
      http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/education/13texas.html
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/17/AR2010031700560.html
      It’s one of the many reasons I am happy to be at an independent school rather than a public one.

      Incidentally, my family were Tories and loyal to the British crown. They took off to Canada for a few years but then came back. šŸ˜‰

      Reply

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