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The 10 Historical Figures Who Didn’t Do What You Think They Did

by DannyGallagher   May 24, 2011 at 10:00AM  |  Views: 18,431

5. Charles Lindbergh

Source: MPI/Archive Photos/Getty Images

It's one thing to say that someone missed being the first at something by a few months or even years. It's not a deliberate alteration of the truth. It's just another victim of the slow news cycle.

Lindbergh, however, was far from the first to cross the Atlantic by plane by himself. He was 13th. His was just the first to come with its own electrifying public relations campaign. And this is not an attempt to minimize his accomplishments in strength and aviation. It's simply a clarification. Although having to spend four hours on a plane with nothing to watch but Herbie: Fully Loaded should be considered an equally historic achievement.

 

4. Eliot Ness

Source: AFP/Getty Images

The so-called "Untouchable" sounds like the kind of folk hero that could make Indiana Jones doubt his own existence. The truth is the real Indiana Jones accomplished more in real life than Chicago's gritty cop...even though there is no such person.

His most famous claim to fame was the inevitable breakdown of notorious crime boss and bootlegger Al Capone. Not only did Ness fail miserably at his attempt to bring Capone down on any criminal charges, it was actually IRS Special Agent Frank J. Wilson who brought the tax evasion charges to trial and ended up with a successful conviction. And if you doubt that, take it up with the IRS. They won't hold it against you when you're being audited the very next day.

 

3. The Brothers Grimm

Source: Elisabeth Jerichau Baumann/Wikipedia

Some of the world's most timeless stories and fairy tales come from the books put out by these famous brothers, perhaps even more famous than the Mario Bros., the Smothers Brothers, and the Baldwin brothers combined (if you don't count Daniel).

However, it should be noted that the boys did not actually write the fairy tales. They collected them from various local folklore and traditional storytellers and published them in a single volume. In fact, some of the original versions have gone through a morbid game of "Telephone" as they were passed down through the generations from their twisted beginnings. For instance, in the story of Cinderella, the enslaved beauty doesn't leave a crystal slipper for her prince-to-be. It's actually a furry slipper made from the skin of a squirrel and her evil stepsisters actually cut off parts of their own feet to fit their big honkin' dogs in it. Either way, I'm sure Disney could come up with an annoying tune to accompany the narrative.

2. Abner Doubleday

Source: Buyenlarge/Getty Images

There is nothing more American than baseball. Deep fried hot dogs? Sure, it's close but nope, not as American. Monster trucks? They're fun to take on carpool rides, but nope. Truck Nuts? Maybe if they are incorporated in either of the previous two, but not by a long shot.

This Civil War hero has long gotten the credit for creating the game that gave America something else to do while drinking and injecting ourselves with steroids. He's even been given credit by the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, but the false idea that he created the game actually came from a Colorado mining engineer who claimed that he saw Doubleday draw the design for the first game with a stick in the dust. Never mind that the game had already been played for almost 100 years (or maybe it was just a single game that felt like it was going on for 100 years).

 

1. Abraham Lincoln

Source: Universal Images Group/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Perhaps the most famous influential President in U.S. history, Lincoln has long been the stuff of legend. His birth, life, and death reads like the story of Jesus, Superman, and Ash from Evil Dead all rolled into one, minus the resurrection, ability to fly, or awesome defeat of mystic zombies with a chainsaw hand. Then again, Lincoln probably had some hobbies.

None is more infamous than the unique tale of events leading up to the historic Gettysburg Address, a speech that was so brilliant it united a nation based on a few simple words he supposedly wrote during a stagecoach ride on the back of an envelope. The speech might have been written quickly because of the press for time, but not during the span of a coach ride, especially since he had written several drafts of the thing before he delivered it. And besides, if the legend was true, I'm sure it also would've put an end to the feud between cats and dogs, the Hatfields and the McCoys, and the East and West Coast gangs long before they even started.

THE DAILY FOUR

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