George Washington Digest – WIF Into History

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Lesser Known

Facts About

George Washington

Even as American values change and history is continually revised by new discoveries, George Washington remains one of the most venerated figures in human history. A highly esteemed soldier and general who became a pioneer politician, he appeals both to the intellectual types and those who liked to prove their worth through combat. Unfortunately, for all his acclaim, the casual reader only gets a vague impression of what he was like as a human. It’s unfortunate, because it leaves out a number of very interesting aspects of the life of a fascinating (if deeply flawed) man. Unfortunate for the average person, that is, not for George Washington. His legacy has literally been set in stone. So, let’s get to learning more about America’s most prominent Founding Father.

 10. Started the First Worldwide War

Although he’s a central figure in the American Revolutionary War, Washington had an even more significant role in a larger scale conflict that is often overlooked in American history. In 1754, Washington was a Lieutenant Colonel in command of forty troops that had been dispatched to intercept a column of French troops in Southwestern Pennsylvania. While this was technically still peace time, tensions were high, as the year before Washington had led a retinue to the French Fort Duquesne to demand they leave the territory, and it had been only through a mighty show of force that the French had surrendered the fort without a fight. So it was that on May 28, Washington’s small command found the French column, and despite having been ordered not to engage the enemy, Washington ordered a sneak attack. He was, after all, only about 22 years old and eager to prove himself, even if it meant defying orders. They killed a small number of French soldiers, wounded a few others, and took 21 prisoners.

 According to History.com, his small engagement was the flashpoint that led to the rival nations of France and Great Britain enlarging their armed forces in the colonies, and in time the war spilled over into Europe. It became known as the Seven Years’ War, and it was the deadliest conflict of the Eighteenth Century. Necrometrics. computes the number of dead from that conflict at 853,000, far exceeding the total combined forces engaged in the American Revolution, let alone the number of casualties. Makes the “Shot Heard Round the World” seem almost quaint.

9. Signed a Murder Confession

Well before it escalated to the Seven Years War, in the immediate aftermath of Washington’s unauthorized sneak attack it became clear it was a British/Colonial boondoggle. It turned out the French column was actually on a diplomatic mission, and Smithsonian Magazine states they had the documentation to prove it. The diplomat in question was an Ensign Joseph Jumonville, and according to Washington, he was killed in the immediate aftermath of the attack when a Native American, who went by the nickname Half King, put a tomahawk in his brain. A larger French force was dispatched to deal with the treacherous British and Washington responded by falling back to an improvised log defense dubbed Fort Necessity. Even after being reinforced by more than a hundred extra soldiers, Washington decided to surrender without another shot being fired. During the process Washington was made to sign a document, wherein he confessed to having murdered Jumonville.

In Washington’s defense, he signed the document under extreme duress and it was written in French, a language he was not familiar with. Rather than being court-martialed for disobeying orders and ignominiously surrendering, not to mention literally signing a confession, the British propaganda machine took Washington’s side. The British were determined to have North America for themselves and they needed to rally support for their cause instead of admitting defeat, and heaping scorn on the impulsive lieutenant colonel would do nothing to help achieve that goal. It took seven years of fighting, but eventually the British won and greatly expanded their American colonies, which as we now know would ultimately prove their undoing on that continent.

8. Did Not Have Wooden Teeth: Had Something Almost Worse

These days the historical trivia note that Washington had wooden teeth is so widely debunked that it’s probably harder to find someone who does believe it. This is not to say he had good teeth: he was having them taken out as young as 24. By 1789, the year he was elected president, he was down to one tooth still in his gums. The rest were his own refitted into dentures, nine were possibly form black people, and others were from whalebone. Even by the standards of the time they were unsightly, and the misconception they were wooden was likely due to their discolored appearance.

Although the dental problems so embarrassed Washington that he tried to keep them secret, they ultimately proved hugely advantageous in their own way. In 1781, a correspondence with a French dentist named Dr. Jean-Pierre Le Mayeur included notes that indicated Washington planned to stay in New York City. One of his letters was intercepted by the British, and they believed the letter indicated that it would be safe for a large contingent of British troops to move to a community called Yorktown. As it happened, Washington had changed his mind and moved to trap the British in the most decisive American victory of the war.

7. Signed the Most Slavery-Friendly Law

As with many of the Founding Fathers, slavery was an un-erasable stain on Washington’s legacy and a fixture of his life. The New York Times said he was an owner of ten slaves when he was only 11 years old, after his father’s death. By the time of his marriage in 1759, the number had grown to 80, and by 1776 it was 150. By the time of his death, between he and his wife Martha Custis Washington, he had 317.

Certain historical notes may seem to slightly redeem or at least complicate his feelings. In 1778 he wrote about wanting to get out of the business of owning slaves. When he died in 1799, his will stipulated that he wanted all the slaves owned by his family freed (this amounted to about half of them). But all this is overshadowed by a particularly nasty piece of legislation he urged to be pushed through congress in 1793. Known as the Fugitive Slave Act, it stipulated that slaveowners could cross any state boundaries in pursuit of escapees. It put a fine of $500 on anyone who sheltered a runaway slave or even aided them, an amount History.org tells us is more than eight years’ salary for a teacher in Virginia at the time.

6. Spent Final Years Pursuing a Single Escaped Slave

The most remembered person ever forced into servitude under Washington was Ona “Oney” Judge, one of the slaves Washington and his wife had with him in Philadelphia, whose main duty was attending to Martha’s personal needs. In May 1796, she slipped out of the Washington home. She had no shortage of help, as Philadelphia was so anti-slavery at the time that any slave that lived there for six months was automatically freed (Washington had gotten around this by merely regularly rotating his staff).

An article about Ona Judge on ushistory.org reports that Martha, for her part, seemed personally offended that a slave she felt she’d treated well would want to leave, refusing to believe Judge would ever want to leave of her own free will. Meanwhile, George initially tried to keep the incident under wraps while in abolitionist territory. Eventually he relented, had notices posted offering a $10 reward for aid in recapturing her, and asked the Secretary of the Treasury for help in bringing her back.

After being smuggled to New York City, for a time the president was able to get back in touch with her. Naturally, George was unable to persuade her to return to bondage without threat of physical force, and was worried using physical force would have caused “a riot on the docks.” Eventually she made her way to the community of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She married a local freeborn black sailor and spent the final 50 years of her life a fugitive and favorite of abolitionist papers. Even when George Washington died three years later, he still had agents on the hunt for her.

5. A Moonshine Distiller

A popular misconception is that, since George Washington and other Founding Fathers grew hemp on their plantations, they must have been smoking it. That’s extremely unlikely, as they grew a species of hemp with little THC in it, which would have been nearly worthless for getting a buzz. Besides, Washington had a much more viable source of inebriation at Mount Vernon in the form of a huge whiskey distillery.

How huge was it? Big enough that it yielded more than 11,000 gallons a year, according to CBS, making it one of the nation’s largest. Of course, Washington couldn’t go through all that even if he threw lavish house parties, so he sold most of it off at a tidy profit. It’s enough to make you wonder if Sam Adams should really be the Founding Father whose name we most associate with alcohol.

4. HATED Becoming the President

An ambitious go-getter on the battlefield and a math enthusiast, you would think the highest office in the country of his birth would be a plum position for Washington. It should have seemed all the sweeter when the results came in from Congress on February 4 and said that of the sixty-nine votes, he’d won all of them. He was the only American president to be elected by unanimous vote. As History.org tells us, Washington was aware that in 1789 he had the support of the public as well as the landed gentry.

Nevertheless, Washington hated assuming the position. He’d spent months trying to get around being appointed to the position, or flat out refusing it prior to his unanimous election. In private, he removed any sense of ambiguity about his feelings, such as when he wrote to his friend Edward Rutledge that accepting the office meant “giving up all expectations of private happiness.”

3. Presidency Massively Criticized by Other Founding Fathers

Despite initial overwhelming support for Washington in Congress, the press, and the public, by the start of Washington’s second term it was a very different story. One of the milder critics was John Adams, who said the president was “too illiterate, unread, and unlearned for his station.”

Thomas Jefferson took a much harsher attitude in 1795 after Washington signed the controversial Jay Treaty, which gave favorable trading deals to Great Britain in exchange for moving British troops out of forts in territory outside the United States. He accused Washington of treason over that. Just before Washington left the office, Thomas Paine went to the press to accuse him of monopolizing for his own profit and his favorites, and depriving veterans. Amidst all this, many other newspapers criticized Washington too, of their own volition, and it was a large contributor to his decision to retire.

2. Invented Farming Equipment and Designs

After leaving the presidency, Washington devoted his twilight years to what had been his true passion all along: Farming. But being the sort of man he was, he of course needed to be in some way exceptional at it. He created an object called a “drill plow,” which was a huge time saver in that it planted seeds at the same time it tilled the soil.

But more significant was his 1797 innovation, the Threshing Barn. Essentially, it was a 15-sided brick building that was two stories tall, and the top floor was used to beat the wheat against the floor until the chaff was sorted out and the seeds fell to the bottom floor. Of course, it should be mentioned that working in it was something Washington delegated to the slaves.

1. Experimental Blood Transfusion Proposal

On December 14, 1799, at age 67, Washington passed away from an obstructive epiglottis, having only noticed the symptoms of it the day before. It must be said, though, that his condition was very likely not helped at all by the team of doctors dispatched to help him, and who concluded that bleeding was Washington’s best hope. Over 12 hours, they drained a staggering 40 percent of his blood. After he expired, in part because so much blood had been removed, a very odd proposal came up: Putting blood from another creature in. Yes, you read that right. Not another person’s blood. Another creature’s.

One of those present at Washington’s death was a William Thornton, a student from Edinburgh in Scotland. Since blood transfusions were relatively new to the field of medicine, some had claimed they could work medical miracles, including reviving the dead. Despite those outlandish claims, when he offered to give the corpse a transfusion of lamb’s blood, the family understandably declined.


George Washington Digest

WIF Into History

College of Confusion – WIF Electoral Government

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 Facts About the

Electoral College

The 1973 children’s educational program Schoolhouse Rock! featured cartoons and catchy songs explaining the fundamentals of math, grammar, and the functions of the United States government. The song for the cartoon about the US Electoral College contains the lyric, “Everyone who graduates becomes the president.”

Thus far, most presidential candidates who have won the Electoral College vote have won the presidency. However, that process has not been as simple as a Schoolhouse Rock! song lyric. In this list, we will explore why the Electoral College was founded, how it works, and why to whom it’s a benefit remains a subject of continual, contentious debate.

9. The Electoral College was based on an idea by Plato

The Founding Fathers of the United States promoted the ideals of the Enlightenment as the basis of their new country’s government. The Enlightenment was a 17th and 18th century European intellectual movement celebrating humans’ ability to use reason to understand and improve the world in which they lived. Though the Enlightenment was an ideological movement specific to the 17th and 18th centuries, many of its ideologies came from the ancient Greeks.

The form of government most of  the Founding Fathers favored, democracy, was a system adopted by the Greeks. (The word “democracy” comes from the Greek words “demos,” meaning “people,” and “kratos,” meaning “power or rule.”) However, practicing democracy wasn’t the only Greek idea that influenced the Founding Fathers. The Greek philosopher whose theories about government influenced the founding of America’s Electoral College, for example, was no democrat.

The Greek philosopher Plato argued in his 375 BC work The Republic that a society functions best under the rule of what he called a philosopher-king. He wrote that, “There will be no end to the troubles of states, or of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers.” In other words, people who are naturally wise are best able to understand the implications of their actions. Therefore, they are best qualified to rule a nation and impose their will over others who are less wise than they are.

Plato’s concept of the philosopher-king is inherently elitist. According to him, only a philosopher, someone who is educated, may be wise. Actually, there are many forms of intelligence and whether or not someone has access to a formal education depends on many sociocultural and socioeconomic factors that are outside of an individual’s control, such as gender, race, and class. In fact, the contemporary form of government that arguably functions most similarly to Plato’s ideal republic is an oligarchy: a form of government where a few people control all of a country’s bureaucracies and social institutions, and they usually consolidate their power by maintaining a rigid class system.

The Founding Fathers didn’t want to form an oligarchy, but they were influenced by Plato’s idea that some individuals are better equipped to make judicious decisions than others. Enshrining the Electoral College in the Constitution was their attempt to ensure that, should a difficult decision need to be made to preserve the smooth functioning of the American electoral process, the people who made it were undoubtedly qualified to handle the responsibility. The difficulty, of course, is that determining what makes a person qualified is a highly subjective process.

8. The Electoral College was established to safeguard an uninformed – not uneducated – electorate

For the Founding Fathers, one potential benefit of the Electoral College was that it could provide the same function that the Internet provides in contemporary society: it could consolidate relevant information. Unlike the Internet, however, the Electoral College wouldn’t be egalitarian. In the 1800s, there was no fast, reliable form of media that could deliver news to a widespread population. Therefore, inhabitants of rural areas were much more physically and socially isolated than inhabitants of cities.

By the 1800s, one in four Americans were literate. The rest of the population was at a significant disadvantage, as those Americans who were illiterate couldn’t read or evaluate the information newspapers printed about candidates. The Electoral College was an educated body of electors whose position allowed them to easily consolidate valid information about any relevant political candidates and cast votes after evaluating that information.

7. The Founding Fathers weren’t united in their opinion of establishing an Electoral College

None of the Founding Fathers strongly favored a direct democracy, such as the one practiced by the ancient Greeks in the city of Athens. In a direct democracy, citizens vote directly on policies, instead of entrusting elected representatives to advocate for their interests. In a representative democracy, the kind of democracy favored by the Founding Fathers, representatives make policies and enforce laws that (hopefully) represent the interests of the citizens who voted them into office. The Founding Fathers envisioned the Electoral College as a body of educated electors who would recommend promising presidential candidates to the US House of Representatives, one of the two houses of Congress, America’s lawmaking body. The US House of Representatives would settle any presidential election the populace contested.

Alexander Hamilton, who penned Federalist Paper Number Sixty-Eight, the document relating to the Electoral College, believed the body would ensure only the best presidential candidates competed for the office. George Washington and James Madison both warned that the factionalism promoted by political parties would weaken America’s democracy. The Founding Fathers believed the Electoral College would promote presidential candidates of whom most members of the US House of Representatives would approve. Congress’ unity would prevent political parties from forming because, in most contested elections, Congress would choose the president. In fact, George Mason, a Virginian delegate to the 1787 First Constitutional Conventionpredicted Congress would choose the president “nineteen times out of twenty.”

The Founding Fathers did not accurately predict the future of the Electoral College, because they did not accurately predict the future of American political parties. By 1796, the American populace had begun to interpret allegiance to a political party as one way Americans could attest to the legitimacy of their representatives’ decisions. In the disputed presidential election of 1876, Congress elected the Republican candidate, Rutherford B. Hayes, even though the Democratic candidate, Samuel Tilden, won the popular vote. That was the last presidential election in which Congress was involved.

6. The Electors are chosen by the country’s two primary political parties

The US Founding Fathers supported the establishment of an Electoral College, but they couldn’t have imagined how the contemporary version would function. As previously mentioned, they didn’t predict political parties’ rise to prominence. As one would expect in an ideal democracy, electors are chosen by the voting populace… sort of.

Since 1800, electors have been chosen by political parties. The political parties may choose anyone who isn’t currently holding a public office, provided that person’s appointment doesn’t violate the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, passed in 1868. When an American who is voting in a presidential election chooses a presidential and vice presidential candidate from a particular political party, that voter is also choosing the electors from their state who have been chosen to vote for those candidates, though whether or not the electors are listed on the voting ballot varies by state. (The 12th Amendment, passed in 1804, ensured that the president and the vice president would be from the same political party.)

However, states have varying regulations regarding whether or not an elector is required to vote with a political party and whether or not an elector is required to cast his or her vote in accordance with the popular vote in the state the elector represents, regardless of his or her political party loyalty. The relationship between state population and electoral representation has been a concern since America’s founding; that’s why two houses of Congress were established. In the Senate, each state’s voters elect two senators. In the House of Representatives, the number of representatives who represent individual districts in a particular state is determined based on the state’s population.

The functioning of the Electoral College is also determined by how a state’s population might affect its representation. An electoral vote from a sparsely populated state, such as Montana, is worth more than an electoral vote from a comparatively populous state, such as New York.  Thus, it is possible for a presidential and vice presidential candidate to lose the popular vote while winning the Electoral College vote (and therefore the presidency). This has happened four times in the country’s history, in the presidential elections of 1876, 1888, 2000, and 2016.

5. The US isn’t the only country that has an Electoral College as part of its electoral process

The United States isn’t the only country where heads of state are chosen by an indirect voting process. According to the CIA World Factbook, other areas with Electoral Colleges include Burma, Estonia, India, Madagascar, Nepal, Pakistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Vanuatu, and Vatican City.

However, none of the Electoral Colleges in these areas make a final decision to elect a head of state. That is the responsibility of the area’s legislative body. The practice of allowing an Electoral College to actually elect a head of state is unique to the United States. In other areas, the legislative bodies have more authority than the Electoral Colleges, just as the Founding Fathers incorrectly believed would be the case for their country.

4. The US is the only country with an Electoral College where replacing that body is seriously debated

Among the countries with Electoral Colleges, only presidential candidates in America seriously argue that the Electoral College should be replaced. Of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, three argued that it should be abolished (Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg), two suggested that it should be reformed (Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard), and two openly supported it (Joe Biden and Mike Bloomberg).

However, the question of whether or not the US Electoral College should be reformed or abolished is a deeply partisan issue, with each of America’s two political parties, Republicans and Democrats, favoring whichever course of action would most benefit each party. According to a March 2020 Pew Research Center poll, 58% of Americans favor replacing the Electoral College with a system wherein the presidential candidate who wins the majority of the popular vote wins the presidency.

3. None of the Electoral College’s decisions have served as precedents for future decisions

Since states’ policies related to their electors vary greatly, none of the electors’ decisions in previous elections serve as precedents for current votes. To the extent that there is uniformity in electors’ conduct, that uniformity has been imposed by the US Supreme Court.

For example, the Supreme Court has ruled that, since the Constitution doesn’t grant agency to states’ electors, “faithless electors,” electors who wish to vote against the interests of the parties that selected them, may be required to sign contracts ensuring their party loyalty. They may be fined or replaced if they act against their political party’s interests. Electors are only expected to vote in accordance with their state’s popular vote if their state requires they do so.

2. The Electoral College was founded to promote equality – but only among some of the population

In the 1776 Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “all men are created equal.” However, one of the reasons the relationship between a state’s population and its representation in the Electoral College concerned the US Founding Fathers was because not every man was considered a citizen. The most populous states were the states with large slave populations, but slaves were not considered citizens who were eligible to vote.

Section I, Article II of the Constitution, sometimes called the Three-Fifths Compromise of 1787, states:

“Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other Persons.”

This compromise was intended to appease constitutional delegates from southern states, who wanted each slave to count as one person, and constitutional delegates from northern states, who didn’t want slaves counted as part of a state’s population. Of course, this “compromise” exploited the slaves. Their presence increased the voting constituencies in their states without expanding the state’s electorate, as they were not granted civil liberties or voting rights until after the 14th Amendment passed in 1868.

1. The US Constitution doesn’t contain the phrase “Electoral College”

One reason the role the Electoral College plays in presidential elections changes over time is because the Founding Fathers didn’t provide detailed guidance for future generations. The Constitution doesn’t include the phrase “Electoral College,” though a body of electors is briefly described in Article II, Section I.

In Federalist Paper Number Sixty-Eight, Hamilton describes a system wherein, in contested presidential elections, Congress, not the Electoral College, selects the president. Currently, the Electoral College selects the president in contested elections. Electors’ authority has changed over time. However, there is no precedent for how it may change in the future, if it changes at all.


College of Confusion

WIF Electoral Government

Not What You Thought- WIF Misconception Digest

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Misconceptions

About Famous

Organizations and Societies

History is often written by the winners, or at least by the survivors. And even in present day, news is often presented with a bias. Many organizations will go to great lengths to cover up what they are truly about, in order to continue to obtain funding and work toward goals that most people may actually oppose. It’s very easy for history, even recent history, to be blurred by the lens of misinformation. And our own biases and misconceptions can make us far more susceptible to be convinced by untruth.

 10. The Incredibly Manly Spartans Were Far More Used to Male Love

Many people think of Spartans as examples of the manliest of the manly men that ever walked the planet. They were a pure warrior society known for caring only about glory in battle and being the toughest you could possibly be. They also spent most of their time growing up completely cut off from female contact – remaining in military barrack-like institutions that allowed only for training with males. Spartans also were well known for having pederastic relationships. It was encouraged for young training Spartans to have an older male to form a close relationship with, where the older male was known as the inspirer and the younger as the hearer.

More damningly, weddings were not formed through careful courtship, but essentially decided for the sake of convenience. Part of the wedding ritual also involved a sort of ritual rape, where beforehand the woman shaves her head and dresses in men’s clothing. Some historians have theorized that this ritual was designed to help ease Spartans into having sex with women, when they were normally used to having sexual relations with men.

9. Despite Their Peaceful Reputations, Buddhists Have a History of Violence

Buddhists are known around the world for being the most peaceful religion imaginable. Most people would never consider that the Buddhists might engage in violence or goad violence on, mainly due to the actions of people like Gandhi, and many monks who performed amazing acts of protest such as burning themselves alive. However, Buddhism is not always an entirely peaceful and kind religion. Many people think that Buddhism believes intentional killing is always wrong, but this is not necessarily the case. Buddhism tends to spend far more time worrying about the intention than the actual action. Monks have even prayed alongside soldiers, defending their actions by stating that they are not directly promoting death, but that it is better to have soldiers with a clear head.

In some parts of the world with Buddhist majorities such as Burma (also known as Myanmar), many monks have been accused of either not condemning, or even goading on violence against Muslim minorities. The fallout from these actions has been very brutal, as hundreds have died in deadly clashes, most of them Muslim. While Buddhismmay be a mostly peaceful belief system, most religions are as well – humans just happen to be very good at finding excuses for violence.

8. The Knights Templar Were Mainly a Group Of Very Rich Bankers

Many people think of the Knights Templar as some secret group of shadowy assassins or very powerful warriors. The Assassin’s Creed game series has led people to believe they were an elite force of some kind, but the truth is a bit more boring. While they did have troops who fought for them, it is quite likely that most of them were far more loyal to their paychecks than they were to any nebulous cause. The Knights Templar were an early group of bankers, who formed a lot of banking regulations and structures that are still used in some forms today.

However, while the Templars were not much more evil or mysterious than most powerful organizations in history, like most people their influence became so large that they became a threat even to their own allies. As bankers nearly everyone was in debt to them, and as the crusades ended and support for their military campaigns ended, those who had debts with them started to look for an easy way out.

When Pope Clement V decided he wanted to merge them with another organization, King Philip IV of France used the opportunity to start arresting large amounts of Templars, and did everything he could to encourage terrible rumors about them – all because he was deeply in debt to them. While they likely had far too much influence, and may not have been a particular force for good in the world, it is quite likely many of the crazier rumors were largely exaggerated by their enemies.

7. PETA Actually Kills Animals and is Against Adopting Them

Most people know PETA as that zany animal rights organization, but the fact of the matter is that they don’t really care about animal rights at all. They are very much against people eating meat, and they are against people owning pets, but they don’t actually really care all that much for the rights of animals as many activists would think of it. The truth is that PETA is good at getting attention, and also really good at hiding what they are truly about. PETA believes that the animal population is so out of control that, until it is under control, the best thing to do is euthanize stray or even extra animals, even if they are perfectly healthy puppies and kittens.

PETA’s shelter at their headquarters isn’t even certified to be an actual adoption shelter – they don’t have the facilities or licensing to hold animals for more than 24 hours. PETA has killed tens of thousands of animals through quick euthanasia instead of even trying to adopt them out, because of their extreme beliefs. There is nothing wrong with being an animal rights activist, but there are many sane organizations out there that support such causes – PETA is not one of them.

6. The Suffragette Movement Wasn’t Entirely Peaceful

When many people think of the women’s suffrage movement they usually think of a largely peaceful movement, full of marches and letter writing, in order to ensure that women have the vote. However, while the United States movement was largely peaceful, across the pond it was quite a different story. The British women’s suffrage movement was marked by very militant tactics, that some have tried to label as terrorist. At times they were known to plant bombs, commit acts of arson, smash in shop windows and other acts of violence and destruction – far from the image many have of women’s suffrage protests.

While some of these actions made it to the United States, the British movement still remains the more violent of the two. This is likely due to the fact that the movement in Britain dealt with much more severe force in response to their protests, often ending up on the end of incredibly violent and brutal police beat downs for daring to stand up for their right to have their voice heard. Some people think that it was only violence that won women the vote, but this would also be inaccurate. While the movement was more violent than many might think, it would have never have been successful if it had only acted with destruction in mind.

5. Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders Were Shameless Glory Hounds

Many people tend to think of Teddy Roosevelt as one of the great American giants – a man of unflinching honor and bravery who proved his mettle in battle time and again. However, the truth is that everything about Teddy Roosevelt was carefully manufactured to create a very specific persona, and behind it all Teddy was a shameless glory hound who wanted to be given accolades and be told how special he was. While he was assistant secretary of the Navy he once said that he thought the country needed a war, all because he wanted all generations to get a chance to prove themselves as warriors. Some historians believe he had this complex because his father had chosen not to fight in the Civil War.

Teddy Roosevelt abdicated other duties and left to form the rough riders with the sole intention of creating an elite group that would gain great glory and honor in battle. Later after people had seen in the news of his glorious exploits, he said “I am entitled to the Medal of Honor and I want it.” His ego was incredibly large and it is clear that he did not fight in order to protect his country or do his duty, but solely for the glory that he would receive from it. Teddy Roosevelt may not have been afraid to throw himself into a deadly battle, but he did it for all the wrong reasons.

4. Australia’s Crime Ridden Roots of Legend May Be Somewhat Oversold

Many people have heard that somewhat insulting claim that Australia is a country where the people are almost entirely descendants of prisoners or prison guards. And while there is a certain level of truth to it (just look at notorious Australian outlaw Ned Kelly up there), there is also a huge misconception about what prisoner means in this context that has led a lot of people to create a false impression in their heads. England did send a large amount of people over to Australia to essentially form a new colony, without giving them any choice, but they really weren’t the hardened criminals that many people think of.

The truth is a bit sadder and shows how cruel and awful humanity can be. The types of people sent over tended to be completely nonviolent offenders and other dregs of society who were usually very poor. In many cases those sent over on the boats were children, and oftentimes the crimes they had committed were as simple as stealing a loaf of bread in order to eat – one of the least awful crimes possible. In other words, while many people think that England was sending over their violent criminals, they were mostly sending over the poor that they didn’t know what to do with.

3. Russia’s Genocide of Their Own Civilians Easily Rivaled That of the Nazis

Many people in the western world tend to think of Hitler as the most evil being who ever existed – at least in recent enough history to have full awareness of his actions and beliefs. However, the truth is that because the Russians were our allies during World War II, and because we had such a tricky relationship with them at the best of times, we have often glossed over the true evil of Joseph Stalin — a man who could easily rival Hitler when it came to massacring and torturing innocent civilians, including those within his own borders.

Stalin eliminated the Kulak class, a group of richer farmers, killing millions and deporting many millions more. Some of those who were killed were paraded naked in the street and even forced to dig their own graves. This elimination of the farming class caused a huge famine in Ukraine that led to the deaths of 3-5 million more people. Stalin was systematic in putting anyone who might be part of an opposition group, or any ethnic group he didn’t like, into brutal gulags. While he may have killed less than Hitler, the brutality of his camps easily rivaled that of the Nazi’s – and the Russians were good at hiding their overall body count. They never had the other countries marching in to inspect the numbers either, so it is hard to be certain whether the figures we have don’t downplay the atrocities.

It is also little known that the Russian soldiers who liberated Germany and Berlin raped many of the women that they came across when freeing people from concentration camps. These women had already had to endure such horror, and now they had to endure even more from people who claimed to be their liberators. While some could blame the dehumanization of war that could affect any human being and not just the Russians specifically, the damning part is that the Russian leadership knew of the issue and refused to do anything to discourage it.

2. The Amazons are an Incredibly Misunderstand Group and Less Crazy Than People Think

The Amazons are incredibly famous and known around the world, but most people are pretty hazy on who are what they actually were. Some people know them only as mythological and don’t believe they were even real – they were. And other people have taken to heart fantastic tales that claim that Amazons cut off one of their breasts in order to be better at firing arrows. This claim is of course not true, and also wouldn’t actually help you fire arrows better – although that hardly needs to be said. The even more common legends claim that they hated men and boys, were a mainly lesbian society and were very anti-man.

The Amazons were a group of ancient Scythian warrior women, indeed a mostly female society, but they had absolutely no quarrel with men and certainly were known as being lovers of men as well. While there may be some truth to them giving male children away to neighboring tribes to be raised, there is no truth to the tales that they castrated their boys. While they were above such insane actions, they could still be quite a zany culture. They were certainly keen on enjoying themselves, and smoked marijuana, got numerous tattoos, and even drank a fermented mare’s milk with powerful mind altering properties during some of their rituals.

1. The Founding Fathers Didn’t Really Believe in Democracy the Way Many Envision it Today

When talking about the direction that the United States of America should take in terms of political legislation and other decisions, many people will start theorizing about what the founding fathers would have wanted. Their names especially come up when people are talking about freedom from tyranny and the people making their voices heard. However, the truth is that the founding fathers wanted as little involvement from the common person as possible, and cared little for the kind of democracy most people envision today. When the United States had formed a union but had not yet officially won independence, most states did not allow you to vote unless you were actually a landowner – in some cases you were allowed as long as you paid a high enough percentage of taxes.

It was only after the war had been won that most states started doing away with the requirement to own land in order to vote, but that doesn’t mean that everyone suddenly had the right. They caved because the war had largely been started on the idea of “no taxation without representation”, so it would be hypocritical if taxpayers couldn’t vote.

Shortly after the war most states adopted laws allowing those who paid taxes to vote, but it was still some time before the laws became inclusive even to the common man who had little enough to pay in taxes that he didn’t qualify in many states, and much longer still before minorities and women were allowed the right to vote. And, despite many people romanticizing the founding fathers as a group that was against religious discrimination, many states in the early days of our union did not allow Catholics or Jews to vote.


Not What You Thought

– WIF Misconception Digest