September 2, 2014

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Historical myth-busting PDF Print E-mail

Over the decades, H.J. Heinz boasted of its “57 Varieties,” and everyone assumed they offered all 57.
In fact, in 1896, company founder H.J. Heinz spotted a shoe store advertisement that declared it offered “21 Styles.” As it happened, Heinz was looking for a slogan and that shoe store ad was all the inspiration he needed. Though his company had more than 60 varieties at that time, Heinz decided to use “57 Varieties” for one simple reason – he liked the way it looked in print. In case you are wondering, Heinz now has more than 3,000 varieties.
The Saturday Evening Post proudly proclaimed: “Founded A.D. 1728 by Benjamin Franklin.” Not true. Editor George Horace Lorimer came up with that little slogan in 1899 as a gimmick to sell more magazines.
The Saturday Evening Post was founded in 1821. However, Franklin died in 1790. Of course, Franklin did own and operate the Pennsylvania Gazette. He acquired it in 1729 and the newspaper continued publishing until 1815. Ironically, the Saturday Evening Post initially was printed in the same shop that printed the Pennsylvania Gazette.
If you were asked to identify the easternmost state, you likely would say “Maine.” As you have already guessed, you would be wrong. Alaska is the easternmost state by virtue of the fact that some of the Aleutian Islands are west of the 180th meridian, which is the dividing point between the Eastern and Western Hemispheres.
“Listen my children and you shall hear...” With those words, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow began his famous poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride.” Though he declares Revere was the only rider and made it to Concord, the facts are a tad different. There were three riders, Revere, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott. They encountered a British patrol, but Revere was captured, his horse seized and he was forced to return to Lexington on foot. Only Prescott made it all the way to Concord.
The movie Casablanca made famous the song “As Time Goes By.” However, the song was not written for the movie, as most believe. It actually was composed in 1931 for Everybody’s Welcome, a Broadway production. Rudy Vallee also recorded it that same year. The movie did popularize the song.
It long has been asserted the first shots of the Civil War were fired on April 12, 1861, at Fort Sumter by Confederate artillery. Not so. The first shots – 17 in all – were fired by a Confederate battery on Jan. 9, 1861. The Confederates were on Morris Island, South Carolina, and their target was the ship Star of the West. The ship was carrying supplies for Fort Sumter. One shot hit the Star of the West, causing the captain to order a hasty retreat.
Popular mythology notwithstanding, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer was not ambushed by the Sioux at the Little Big Horn. On June 25, 1876, Custer and his men ambushed an encampment of Sioux and Cheyenne. Led by Crazy Horse, the American Indians killed Custer and about 210 of his soldiers. As for Custer’s rank, he had been temporarily promoted to brigadier general and then major general during the Civil War. In 1865, he returned to his previous rank of captain. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1865.