Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past

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9781565849211: Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past

The tall tales that parade as historical facts.

Did you know that:

  • The legend of Paul Revere's Ride was invented by a poet in 1861, eighty-six years after the fact?
  • Thomas Jefferson was not seen as the architect of American equality until Abraham Lincoln assigned him that role four score and seven years later?
  • Molly Pitcher, the revolutionary heroine whose picture adorns current textbooks, is a complete fabrication?

In Founding Myths, noted author and historian Ray Raphael examines thirteen well-known tales of America's struggle for independence whose authenticity has been disproved by recent scholarship. Strangely out of sync with both the communitarian ideals of revolutionary America and the democratic values of today, these stories of America's creation reflect instead the romantic individualism of the nineteenth century, when most of them were created. Despite their narrative appeal, Raphael argues, they sell the U.S. short. Only by laying these myths bare can we understand and appreciate the popular spirit that propelled America to independence.

A provocative revision of America's birth, Founding Myths redefines the roots of U.S. patriotism. 15 black-and-white photographs.

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About the Author:

Ray Raphael is the author of ten books, including A People's History of the American Revolution (The New Press). He lives in Redway, California.

From School Library Journal:

Adult/High School - If a high school history teacher were to ask his class when the Declaration of Independence was signed, he undoubtedly would hear a chorus call out, "July 4, 1776." But what percentage of students, or teachers for that matter,would know that as of August 1, only John Hancock had actually signed the document? And how many would know that at least 14 men who were not even in Philadelphia on July 4 are recorded in the Congressional Journal as signing it on that well-remembered date? But sign it they did, and what does it matter what the actual date was? Raphael thoroughly delineates the creation of the fictive July 4 signing, including intentional lies and omissions in the "official" Congressional Journal. The chief impetus behind this doctoring of history was simply to have a neat, unmistakable date for national celebration. The author goes on to expose numerous myths before, during, and after the Revolution revolving around Paul Revere's ride, Valley Forge, Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" speech, the Battle of Yorktown, and several others. In each case, Raphael outlines the myth, reveals what really happened, and, most importantly, argues why we must move past historical nonsense so that a truer, more democratic national record can emerge. Academic historians have long known these truths. Raphael deserves praise for his efforts to have that knowledge trickle down to the rest of us. Toward that end, he offers a "Note to Teachers," including a Web site with grade-appropriate lesson plans. - Robert Saunderson, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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