There are so many things we believe to be true that aren’t. The problem is whom can we trust to tell us the truth? Perhaps no one can say but here are a few tried and true misconceptions that may surprise you and as the crow flies, appear to be the whole truth as told from the horse’s mouth (or somewhere near there).
• The Age of Exploration
Almost any school child has heard the tale that Christopher Columbus sailed off to territory unknown believing the earth was flat and that he and his small fleet would fall off the surface into God knows what. The myth of the Flat Earth or the Flat Earth Error is not true. Before the 14th century (long before his first voyage) it was believed, especially in medieval times even among the most educated of scholars, that the earth was spherical, which was the belief held by the ancient Hellenes.
• American History
The father of our country, George Washington, did not own a set of wooden teeth as originally believed. A forensic anthropologist from the University of Pittsburgh working in collaboration with the National Museum of Dentistry studied four known dentures owned by Washington and concluded they were all made of gold, hippopotamus, ivory, lead and both animal (horse and donkey) and human teeth.
Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 did not immediately free all American slaves. Only states in rebellion were immediately affected and since those states did not recognize the authority of the federal government, slaves were not freed for another two years. Slave ownership persisted until Union troops conquered southern territory. It was only in 1865 with the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment that slavery was officially abolished in all of the United States.
• European History
Napoleon Bonaparte was not as short a history claims. Although he was not tall, after his death his height was recorded as 5 feet, two inches but the measurement was in French feet. This same amount corresponds to approximately 5 feet 7 inches in modern terms, which was considered average height for the times in which he lived.
According to scholars, his nickname, The Little Corporal, did not have anything to do with his stature and there are several theories as to how he earned this moniker. It is possible that napoleon always appeared short because he was often seen with his Imperial Guard, a force comprised of men of above average height.
Seek and ye shall find many misconceptions that are believed to be truth. Once can only hope that they will all eventually be uncovered, but perhaps that is about as realistic as discovering that the moon really is made of green cheese after all!
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