I recently learned that George Washington didn't actually chop down a cherry tree as a kid [link
], Napoleon wasn't actually short [link
], John Hancock didn't actually sign the Declaration of Independence extra-large to send a message [link
], and Michael Jackson never actually bought Joseph Merrick's remains [link
]. I feel like I've been lied to for years, and I'm wondering what other urban legends I may have been taught as facts.
interested in historical examples of the kind I gave above: particularly well-known stories about a famous person or event that might be commonly believed by a large number of people, specifically Americans, but are unambiguously and provably false. So no "The average person doesn't actually swallow eight spiders a year," and also no "Ben Franklin was actually an asshole."
Double bonus points for stories that might be presented in history classrooms or textbooks.
If possible, please include references for any claims made.