The truth is that much of what we learn about history is a series of little white lies that over time have grown into tall tales.
George Washington didn't really walk around with a mouthful of wooden teeth. Those are real teeth and pearl inlays in Washington's dentures. A recent study by Mary Thompson suggests Washington experimented with early dental transplants. He purchased replacement teeth from his slaves for 13 shillings (roughly $50 in 2015 money).
Another truth every schoolchild learns early on is Paul Revere was a great hero of the revolution and saved the day by alerting the minutemen at Lexington and Concord that the British were coming.
It's true. Paul Revere made a midnight ride, and he spread the news about the British advance on Lexington and Concord, but the fact is Revere never completed his ride. And here's another fact hardly anyone knows. Revere wasn't the only one to make that ride. A second rider, William Dawes, set out by land at the same time Revere rowed across the bay to Charlestown.
And one of the biggest hoaxes ever played on Americans occurred during the 1930s and early 1940s. FDR had polio and could barely walk, yet during his presidency most Americans had no idea the president was crippled.
American history is full of strange paradoxes, and that's one of the things that make it so interesting.