Everybody Knows That! ...Don't they?
There's a lot of sayings about what everybody knows. One of my favorites is this one from Mark Twain (aka Samuel Clemens): "It's not what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." Another favorite is this: "If 'everyone knows' something, it's probably not true." Sadly, I don't remember who gave us that one.
I mention these sayings because there's a whole lot that Americans "know" about our own history that is apocryphal, unfounded, or just plain false. Some of these false facts get believed because they're convenient shorthand for something that is true, and others get believed because they're deliberately misrepresented as fact. No matter why a false fact has gained currency, it's never a good idea to believe something that just ain't so. At the very least, it can make one look foolish when discussing the topic. At worst, belief in something that isn't so can allow one to justify or rationalize behavior that one would normally never condone.
With those thoughts in mind, here is a bit of a pop quiz for you.
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