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As we know, history tends to repeat itself. If you’ve ever been a student of the subject, then you know this applies to learning it, too. You have to rehash the same details over and over in order to memorize them. And yet, in all of your time spent poring over books and study materials, you may have left out a few details. It’s not your fault, though, as even the most iconic of historical events seemingly haven’t been told in their entirety. So, brush up on these 40 moments in time to learn how they differ from our memories – or studies – of them.

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40. George Patton went to a funeral for a toilet

General George Patton led U.S. forces as they freed parts of France occupied by the Germans during World War II. During the first World War, though, he found himself caught up in a strange misunderstanding with French locals. They thought they had stumbled upon a grave left behind by American soldiers and brought Patton to the site. But the pit covered with sticks that caused them so much grief was actually an American latrine. So, the general effectively attended a funeral for a toilet.

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39. Texas was supposed to be New Germany

In 1842, Germans still in their home country came up with a plan. They decided to send a big chunk of their population to Texas to colonize it, thus creating a state of their own right in America’s south. Five years later, they sent 5,000 Germans to begin their mission. However, even with 2,000 more of their countrymen making their way over by 1853, the plan never came to fruition.

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38. Sir Francis Drake could have claimed California for the British

California’s a far cry from England, and Sir Francis Drake may have been one of the first to know this. In 1579, the explorer reached the West Coast and laid claim to a chunk of land with the consent of the natives in the area. However, the Crown had no designs on the west coast of the U.S., so it never became a British stronghold.

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37. The Japanese got creative when sending bombs to the U.S. during WWII

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During World War II, Japanese fighters came up with a clever, albeit terrifying, way to send bombs from the Pacific Ocean all the way to the U.S. They attached their weapons to hydrogen balloons and sent them flying in America’s direction.That journey, though, could take up to 60 hours. Despite that, many of the bombs landed as intended; however, some may still be out there, undetonated but still active.

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36. The first naval conflict of WWI was probably the most relaxed battle ever

Lake Nyasa stretches between Tanzania and Malawi, formerly territories of Germany and the United Kingdom, respectively. Prior to WWI, however, the commanders from each country had become buddies, patrolling the waters and sometimes drinking together. But when the U.K. declared War on Germany in 1914, the English leader fired on his German friend, stalling his ship with a single shot. The German had no clue the war had even started. That, though, didn’t stop the Englishman shuffling him into the hold as a prisoner.

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35. Cars weren’t actually invented in the U.S.

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Ask any American, and they’re sure to tell you that the car came from the brilliant mind of Henry Ford. Although his Model T revolutionized roads in the U.S., he didn’t actually invent the original vehicle of this kind. The honor actually goes to a pair of European designers, Emile Levassor and Karl Benz. The latter patented the first-ever automobile in 1886, nearly 20 years before Ford’s made it onto the market.

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34. Captain Bligh was actually a nice guy

Some of Captain William Bligh’s men turned on him during his command of the HMS Bounty in 1889. Legend has it that this happened because he was a terrible boss, overworking his crew and insulting them to boot. However, it seems that Bligh was actually kind compared to other commanders. His men only rebelled after spending time partying in Tahiti. Ship life, apparently, couldn’t compare and they wanted to return to the island. As a result, they successfully mutinied.

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33.The man who started WWI did not receive the death penalty

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Assassinating a head of state tends to have immediate and severe consequences. And in Gavrilo Princip’s case, you’d expect his fate to be even worse. He did, after all, shoot Archduke Franz Ferdinand, igniting a series of events that started WWI. Believe it or not, he was neither killed on the scene nor sent to the executioner. Princip, in fact, received a 20-year sentence for his deeds. Although the assassin did die behind bars from an illness before the war’s end.

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32. The melody of the Star-Spangled Banner wasn’t an original

There’s no debate as to who wrote the “Star-Spangled Banner” – Francis Scott Key definitely did that. However, his words go with a melody called “To Anacreon in Heaven,” composed by an Englishman named John Stafford Smith. Funnily enough, Smith first penned the music with the intention of it becoming a drinking song. Now, it’s a national anthem – what an upgrade!

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31. Independence didn’t actually happen on July 4th

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Alert your boss – you should have July 2nd off from work, as well as July 4th. The earlier date marks the day that Congress voted to free the U.S. from their British overlords. The Founding Fathers began to sign the Declaration of Independence two days later so that they could spread the word of their decision. Nevertheless, by July 4th, Americans were already free.

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30. A woman used her laundry line to tell British secrets during the Revolutionary War

Anna Strong counted Abraham Woodhull as one of her neighbors during the Revolutionary War, and he just happened to be a spy. He’d trek to New York and gather information from British soldiers – until they got suspicious of the inquisitive visitor. So, he enlisted others to do his reconnaissance work instead. They’d inform Strong where they left the information, and she’d hang particular clothes so that Woodhull would know where to find it.

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29. One city in Texas tried to secede from the U.S. after the Civil War

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Van Zandt County’s desire to secede, though, had nothing to do with the conflict’s initial cause. Instead, the people in this area grew tired of the federal troops sent to enforce martial law over the former Confederate stronghold. So, they decided they wanted to leave both Texas and the U.S. Their plan, though, clearly never came to fruition, as, ironically, government forces successfully put down the local uprising.

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28. The symbols of the Republican and Democratic parties started as jokes

If someone calls you a jackass, which animal would you then use as the symbol of your political party? To Andrew Jackson, the choice was clear and, from 1828 onward, the Democrats came to be represented by a donkey. As for Republicans, they got the idea for their logo, when, in 1874, a political cartoonist drew an elephant with the caption, “the Republican vote.” Way to own it, both of you.

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27. Abraham Lincoln created the Secret Service… On the day he got assassinated

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On April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln signed the paperwork that created the Secret Service. Hours later, he settled into his seat at Ford’s Theater with no idea that an assassin waited in the wings. The department as created by Lincoln, though, would not have been able to save him from impending doom. The 16th president actually created the organization to cut down on currency counterfeiting. It didn’t become the presidential security detail until 1901.

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26. The “evil king” from Braveheart was actually one of England’s greatest monarchs

King Edward I of England wasn’t perfect. But neither was he the evil guy who invaded Scotland as depicted in Braveheart. The truth is, the Scottish invited him into their country, as they had multiple people claiming the throne and they needed help deciding who deserved it. In the end, though, he chose to keep the land for himself. Such a swift maneuver explains why he’s considered one of the country’s most competent kings ever.

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25. A single American pilot almost got the country into a war with the Soviet Union

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Photos showing Soviet missiles in Cuba, positioned toward the U.S., shocked America. This 1962 discovery kicked off the Cuban Missile Crisis, an event so tense it nearly started a nuclear war. During the standoff, the U.S. sent pilot Charles Maultsby into the Soviet Union to spy on the enemy. But he went too far into their airspace, almost getting shot down by Soviet forces. Maultsby made it back to safety, but his presence in the USSR could have caused a nuclear conflict.

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24. The U.S. Government poisoned people during Prohibition

Between 1920 and 1933, Americans couldn’t produce, import, transport or sell alcohol, nor could they consume it. Well, at least that’s what the law said. Many people, however, continued to imbibe even with such strong federal legislation against it. As a result, the government went to extremes to deter the population from drinking. They actually started poisoning industrial alcohol, the sort of beverages often stolen by bootleggers. By the end of Prohibition, the poisoning program killed approximately 10,000 people.

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23. Cleopatra wasn’t actually Egyptian

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Many people remember Cleopatra as Egypt’s final queen. But it turns out that she may not have had her roots in the country over which she reigned. Historians believe that she was descended from Ptolemy, the Macedonian general who served under Alexander the Great. As such, experts have deduced, the monarch was most likely Greek.

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22. Eight of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence weren’t American

In writing and signing the Declaration of Independence, the Founding Fathers made clear that the 13 colonies of the U.S. no longer lived under British rule. And yet, eight of the 56 men who signed off on this world-changing document weren’t even American. In fact, they were English. That’s right, they came from the very country with which America was severing its ties.

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21. Uncle Sam was actually a real person

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Samuel Wilson had seen combat during the Revolutionary war, but later settled into civilian life as a meat-packer in New York. He used his skills to help U.S. soldiers during the War of 1812 – he inspected their meat before they ate it. So, the soldiers started to joke that the “U.S.” symbol on the packaging didn’t indicate the product’s country of origin. Instead, it indicated that the food came from Uncle Sam, Wilson’s nickname. Soon enough, those ties extended to any military labeling with those initials and, before long, an icon was born.

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20. North Carolina might’ve had a neighbor named after Ben Franklin

Following the American Revolution, some North Carolinians grew disgruntled with their state and new country. So, they decided to secede from NC and form their own territory. They wanted to call the place Franklin after Ben Franklin, but they never had the chance to honor the Founding Father in such a way. The Union refused to recognize the new region or let it join up.

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19. The Titanic was never pitched as an unsinkable ship by its owners

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Movies tend to stretch the truth, and the beloved flick Titanic is no different. In it, the vessel’s builders vow that their creation is unsinkable. And yet, Richard Howells, a historian, later revealed that passengers probably didn’t think that at all. According to Best Life, Howells said, “The population as a whole were unlikely to have thought of the Titanic as a unique, unsinkable ship before its maiden voyage.”

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18. Thomas Edison didn’t invent the light bulb

Inventor Thomas Edison held a stunning 1,093 patents, although some of his designs may not have been his own. Occasionally, it seems, another inventor beat him to the punch. Case in point – the light bulb, for which he received a patent in 1880. However, 40 years prior, British chemist Warren de la Rue had come up with the same idea.

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17. Columbus didn’t discover America, and neither did Amerigo Vespucci

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Christopher Columbus gets most of the credit for discovering America – and Amerigo Vespucci gets the rest. Neither of these famed explorers, however, actually docked at a New World port first. Instead, Leif Erikson was the original foreign visitor to U.S. soil. The Icelandic explorer made his way to the continent in the 10th century.

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16. Massachusetts residents rose up against their “oppressive” government post-Revolutionary War

Life after the Revolutionary War proved tough for lots of Massachusetts residents, and farmers in particular. By the late 1700s, many had gone to jail for failing to pay their debts. So, they started to protest and break out of jail. This act of desperation culminated in a revolt led by Daniel Shays. The governor at the time shut them down, but the people sided with their neighbors – they didn’t re-elect their state leader after he responded poorly.

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15. A 17-year-old completing a school project designed the American flag

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Robert G. Heft, a 17-year-old student had an important project to do – design a new flag for the U.S. However, it wasn’t just homework. It was, in fact, also part of a contest to actually have your creation become the nation’s symbol. His teacher gave his idea a B-, but Congress liked it a lot more. Lawmakers made Heft’s 50-star creation into the country’s flag and, as a result, he was upgraded to an A.

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14. Marie Antoinette never actually said, “Let them eat cake”

The phrase “Let them eat cake” shows that a rich person has no regard for the poor. Specifically, if the peasants don’t have bread, they should eat cake instead. It became a popular saying because history has credited the words to Marie Antoinette, the lavish spender and former Queen of France. She, though, never actually uttered those words. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in fact, wrote the line in his autobiography, and people came to associate it with the monarch.

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13. The U.S. bought Alaska for about two cents an acre

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Alaska could have remained a Russian territory, but the U.S. brokered a deal with their across-the-pond neighbors in 1867. The government pledged to pay $7.2 million and take ownership of Russia’s North American territory. Breaking that figure down by the state’s square footage, the U.S. purchased the region for a mere two cents an acre.

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12. Paul Revere wasn’t the only one to warn people that the British were on their way

Paul Revere gets all of the credit for warning Americans that the British military was on its way to quell the stateside revolution. But many other riders took similar journeys that night, they just haven’t gotten the attention in the history books. On that note, Revere’s famous for shouting, “The British are coming!” while on his midnight voyage. This probably isn’t true, either, since he would have had to alert his neighbors stealthily.

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11. The Celts almost took over Egypt in the 4th Century B.C.

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In the Celtic people’s heyday – specifically, the Classical Era – they had a reputation for being great fighters and weaponsmiths. So, Egypt’s King Ptolemy II enlisted 4,000 of them to push back a challenger who wanted his throne. The soldiers-for-hire, though, then tried it on for themselves. Yup, the Celts made a bid for the Egyptian monarchy. That effort, however, went over poorly, to say the least. Ptolemy left the mercenaries that survived his wrath on an island to starve.

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10. Hundreds of men came forward to claim they were Marie Antoinette’s dead son

The French Revolution took the lives of the country’s former monarchs, Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. Their son, Louis XVII, however, survived the conflict, but was treated horribly and left isolated in prison. He died in 1795 at the age of ten after battling tuberculosis, and no one made a fuss. But when it seemed his family might return to power in France, out of the woodwork came hundreds of men claiming to be the ill-fated royal couple’s son.

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9.The first face on the $1 bill wasn’t George Washington’s – it wasn’t even a president’s

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It makes sense that the first President of the United States gets to be on the $1 bill, but he didn’t always have his rightful place on the note. The bill first appeared in 1862, not long after the start of the Civil War. Salmon P. Chase served as the Secretary of Treasury at the time, and he designed the paper money. As such, it kind of makes sense that he’d put his own face on the bank note’s first edition.

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8. No one was burned at the stake during the Salem Witch Trials

No one was safe from witchcraft accusations in late-17th century Salem, Massachusetts. Indeed, among those labeled as witches were a four-year-old, the elderly, and the homeless. Fortunately for them, though, their fate would not involve burning at the stake. Such a punishment was never used in the small town, although officials did jail and hang the supposedly guilty women.

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7. Puritans didn’t come to the U.S. for religious freedom – they came to get away from it

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The story of the Pilgrims’ trek to America typically describes a group of people tired of facing religious persecution. As a result, they made the decision to find a new home. Many Puritans, however, hopped onto the Mayflower and headed for what would become the U.S. because they wanted fewer religions in their community.

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6. A woman joined Congress before women even had the right to vote

In 1916, Jeanette Rankin won an election and became a Congresswoman for her home state of Montana. Amazingly, she earned her legislative seat four years prior to women even having democratic voting rights. It would take another four years before American ladies would have their suffrage recognized, with the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

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5. After Israel’s formation, it could have had a surprising person as its first President: Albert Einstein

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In terms of Albert Einstein’s career, he was firmly planted in one place. The German-born scientist discerned the famous formula, E=mc2 and went on to win a Nobel Prize for Physics, to boot. Yet he could have had another wildly impressive role. Apparently, he was tapped to become Israel’s first president after the country’s formation, but turned down the offer.

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4. Joan of Arc was also a style icon

In Joan of Arc’s time, she became not just a national hero but a religious one as well. As willing as she was to fight, though, the future saint also seems to have had a softer side. People often copied her look, even when she changed her hair to a much shorter style. Some even say she’s the inspiration for the ever-popular bob cut.

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3. Pocahontas never had a romantic relationship with John Smith

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Movies have greatly embellished the relationship between the Indigenous American Pocahontas and English explorer John Smith. It simply wasn’t a love story for the ages. For one thing, she was only 12 when they met, while he was pushing 30. The two certainly crossed paths and became friends, but there wasn’t anything romantic or inappropriate.

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2. The Wild West wasn’t as lawless as it seemed – only 1.5 people per year died by guns

The phrase “Wild West” likely conjures up images of cowboys drinking at a bar, then, perhaps, stepping outside to partake in a tense duel. As it turns out, frontier life wasn’t nearly as lawless as we’ve been told. Instead, a mere 1.5 people per year were murdered in era-appropriate gun-related incidents.

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1. Johnny Appleseed, the folklore hero, was actually a real person

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John Chapman didn’t, however, go around planting apple seeds everywhere he went. He focused heavily on conservation instead, protecting trees and green spaces with fences. Still, he managed to earn the nickname Johnny Appleseed and become a folk hero. This despite the fact that he may never even have planted a single seed.

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