Is This Historical Common Knowledge Fact True or False?

Isadora Teich

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About This Quiz

There are a lot of things that everyone knows, but throughout history, small misunderstandings have led to massive knowledge gaps. Do you know fact from fiction? Test your historical knowledge with this HowStuffWorks quiz!

Henry VIII had 6 wives.

King of England Henry VIII is known for having 6 different wives, and even leaving the Catholic Church and starting the Church of England in order to divorce one of them. His wives were Catherine Parr, Catherine Howard, Anne of Cleves, Jane Seymour, Anne Boleyn and Catherine of Aragon.

In America, slavery was only ever in the southern states.

Slavery existed in all of the original 13 British colonies. According to some sources, New York City was built largely by slaves, who were about 1/5 of the city's total population.

Over the course of history, roughly 600,000 people were put to death for being witches.

In medieval Europe, witch hunting was serious business. It has been estimated that about 600,000 men and women were executed after being accused of witchcraft.

Early feminists were mostly concerned with sexual liberation.

Feminists of the 1960s and 1970s were mostly focused on economic goals, better pay, better access to higher paying jobs, sick leave, medical care and the labor women do for their families being recognized, respected and made easier through things like high-quality child care and paid parental leave.

Due to China's one-child policy, many little girls were abandoned every year.

Between 1979-2015, China adhered to a strict policy where parents could only have one child. Due to this, tens of thousands of baby girls were abandoned by their parents every year.

America has always operated as a democracy.

In a true democracy, every citizen has a direct vote, which is not the case in the US. Throughout our history, politicians and others have taken great steps to exclude women, black Americans and poor Americans from voting at all. In fact, due to our electoral college, citizens cannot directly elect a president.

The Salem Witch Trials caused by hallucinogenic fungus infecting the people of Salem.

There is a widespread myth that the Salem Witch Trials were caused by mass ergot poisoning. Ergot is a natural fungus that can grow on rye in damp conditions. Despite many people believing this, it is incorrect.

English was the first European language spoken in America.

There were Spanish-speaking settlements in the Americas long before there were English-speaking ones. The first of these was St Augustine, which was founded in 1565 in what would later become Florida.

Dentures used to be made with human teeth.

Before the mid-19th century, dentures were commonly made with teeth taken from the mouths of fallen soldiers. George Washington had dentures made partially with teeth from his slaves.

Christopher Columbus discovered America.

While indigenous people had been living in the Americas for thousands of years before Columbus showed up, he was not even the first European to set foot there. Leif Eriksson was the first European to set foot in the Americas. The Viking explorer landed here in roughly 1000 AD.

Our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

While the document was announced on July 4th, there was some discussion, clarification, debate and preparation before the final copy was ready to be signed. It was signed on Aug. 2, 1776.

The Aztecs made human sacrifices.

Both the Mayans and Aztecs saw human sacrifice as an important religious rite. The Mayans were known for sacrificing people to the gods by pulling their hearts out of their chests while they were still beating.

Stonehenge was used as a cemetery.

There are a lot of mysteries surrounding Stonehenge and all of its uses, but experts know for a fact that it was used as a cemetery. There are about 200 people buried on its grounds.

The Great Chicago Fire was started when a cow knocked over a lantern.

This popular story was written up by a reporter for the Chicago Republican, who later confessed he made it up. No one knows what really started this massive fire, which burned for 2 days straight in 1871 and caused $200 million in damage.

America was the first country to develop nuclear weapons.

America was the first country to develop nuclear weapons and the only to ever use them in large-scale warfare. The US dropped nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War 2.

The radio broadcast of H.G. Wells's "War of the Worlds" caused mass hysteria all over America.

This story was largely exaggerated by the print media. They felt threatened by the popularity of radio and were trying to discredit it for their own benefit.

For decades, the Australian government took Aboriginal children from their parents.

Throughout most of the 20th century, the Australian government took Aboriginal children away from their parents and forced them to reject their heritage. They are called the Stolen Generations.

The Pilgrims left England seeking religious freedom.

While the Pilgrims wanted the freedom to practice their faith, they did not believe in a separation of church and state or genuine religious tolerance or freedom. They banished anyone who did not conform to their ideals perfectly, sometimes even in the dead of winter.

Nazis were socialists.

While Nazi stands for National Socialist German Workers Party, the actual stances the Nazi party evolved to take have nothing to do with actual socialism, a political platform on the far left. The Nazis enacted fascism, which is a political platform on the far right.

Cowboys worked the plains alone.

While cowboys are often portrayed as mysterious white loners in movies, in real life they worked in large groups to contend with the many dangers of their jobs. Also, roughly a quarter of cowboys were men of African descent who left poverty and violence in the south to make a good living driving cattle across the plains.

USSR dictator Joseph Stalin is responsible for more deaths than Adolf Hitler.

Over the course of World War II, the Nazis murdered between 15-20 million people in the Holocaust. In between 1929-1953, Stalin killed between 20-60 million people.

A woman established the first-ever birth control clinic.

Margaret Sanger was a women's rights activist who played a large role in furthering reproductive rights for women. She was jailed for a month in 1917 after opening the first birth control clinic.

In 1775, Paul Revere took a long ride yelling to warn people that the British army was coming.

The myth of Paul Revere's ride comes from a famous poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. At the time colonists still considered themselves British, so riding through the streets yelling that "The British were coming!" would have meant very little to them.

Vlad the Impaler inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula.

This Romanian ruler impaled 20,000 Ottoman Turks and was also known for sopping up his enemies' blood with bread and eating it. His bloodthirsty ways and spooky family name inspired Bram Stoker when he was creating his famous vampire, Dracula.

The Emancipation Proclamation freed all the southern slaves.

When Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the south had already left America and formed the Confederacy. While this ordinance sparked revolt, as it was intended to do, it did not actually free a single slave.

Cleopatra was the last Pharaoh of Egypt.

Greeks conquered Egypt in 332 BC and created their own dynasty called the Ptolemaic Dynasty. This dynasty ended in 30 BC with death of Cleopatra, and the conquest of Egypt by Rome.

Doctors used to not give women painkillers during birth.

In colonial America, women were not allowed to be given painkillers during birth. They were supposed to suffer as punishment for Eve eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.

Vikings wore horned helmets.

While Vikings are often depicted with massive horned helmets, there is no evidence to support they wore them. This idea became popular through depictions of Vikings in German opera.

The Mongol Empire was the largest continuous land empire ever.

The Mongol Empire begun by conquerer Genghis Khan lasted from 1206-1368. It stretched throughout Eurasia.

George Washington was the only US president to not belong to any political party.

George Washington was the first president of America. He not only did not belong to any political party, but warned the other founding fathers about starting them.

Julius Caesar was the first baby to be delivered via C-section.

Sharing a name with this procedure is all the famed Roman Emperor has in common with it. The fact that his mother survived the birth is proof that he was not delivered in this way, because in Ancient Rome women did not survive C-sections.

Napoleon Bonaparte was short.

Napoleon Bonaparte was 5'6 or 5'7, which is short by today's standards, but was average for a man of his time. People think this misunderstanding may have occurred due to a misunderstanding. The Britsh and the French used different systems of measurement back then.

Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals.

While Franklin may not have been the only person to create them independently, he was among the first to wear and create them. He popularized them.

Thomas Jefferson freed all of his slaves when he died.

Thomas Jefferson had hundreds of slaves and only freed 5 when he died. The rest were sold as part of his estate.

Louisiana used to be a French territory.

The state of Louisiana was originally part of a French territory known as the Louisiana Territory. In 1803, the US bought this territory from France and nearly doubled its size.

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