This was written on my original blog on August 17th, 2014
Before I begin, realize that this is a list containing baggage belonging to some of the most famous and cherished people in history. I have done research on some of the most respected and beloved figures in history textbooks around the world and have compiled this list to show the side of “good” historical people that the books don’t know of or wish to explain. Not every human is perfect, but sometimes it gets to a point where readers forget that even the “best” of mankind has some serious personal issues under their skin. I asked for people’s opinions, and I got a rather lengthy list of names (which if you’re curious to see which names I decided not to write about, you can click here) as a result. Thus, I give to you, five of the most overrated people in history — five men who are remembered for what they did good who should also be at least noted for what they did bad. In some cases, history has just been plain wrong about what these five have done.
Somewhere along the line, everything about Paul Revere was warped into something similar to a game of telephone. He’s been described as a “revolutionary hero” who spoke a phrase that has been horrendously distorted into “The British are coming!” Revere’s Midnight Ride was not a glorious one, as Americans tend to believe. Between 1774 and 1775, Paul Revere was employed by the Boston Committee of Correspondence and the Massachusetts Committee of Safety. He was, in short, a mailman. He carried news, messages, and political resolutions to local people and, to some extent, New York and Philadelphia.
On April 18th 1775, Revere was told to ride to Lexington, Massachusetts, by Dr. Joseph Warren, who’s name has since been cast into the shadows of this story. Revere’s task was simple: warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British Redcoats were marching towards Lexington to arrest the two. He never finished the run, which tends to also be forgotten. He alarmed the country by stopping at each house on his way to his destination.A sentry had asked that he not make too much noise, in order not to shock anyone nearby. “Noise!” cried Revere, “You will have noise enough before long. The regulars are coming out!” At this point, Revere and a second rider, William Dawes (ironically, another name that has been left out of the story), decided to head down to Concord, Massachusetts. A large supply of weapons and supplies had been hidden in Concord earlier.
Soon, Revere and Dawes were joined by yet another rider, Samuel Prescott. If you aren’t catching a theme by now, it’s that nearly all these other men in the story have been chopped out of the story. Almost immediately after, however, they were stopped by a British patrol on their way. Here’s the funny part: Prescott and Dawes escaped the capture. Revere didn’t. He was captured, interrogated, and then released (without any mode of transportation, as they took his horse). Afterwards, Revere made it back to Lexington in time to witness the battle. Only one of the three men made it to Concord, Samuel Prescott. It was Prescott, not Revere, that successfully gave the warning that allowed Americans to prepare. So, no man said “The British are coming!” Why? Because at this time, a majority of Americans, even though they were rebelling against the Empire, were British. It would make absolutely no sense for a British man to scream “The British are coming!” in a town where a majority of the citizens were British by blood. However, British redcoats had several known terms to distinguish them from colonial members. Lobsterbacks and Regulars would be the top two.
So, in short, Revere never completed his famous Midnight Ride. Samuel Prescott did. Revere never said “The British are coming!” He said “The regulars are coming out!”
So, how exactly did Revere grab his unworthy place in history? Well, he was a celebrity in his own in the community during the war. He was, at one point, a silversmith who made things out of silver and sold them to everyone nearby. He was also the man who created the (biased) engraving of the Boston Massacre, which created tension and hatred against the regulars. He also became the subject of the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem that forever warped and corrupted the story of Paul Revere.
It’s a classic political joke. If you’re on the right, Reagan is God. If you’re on the left, Reagan is Satan. I normally don’t like Urban Dictionary, as it’s an obscene website anyone can edit filled with garbage and acronyms. However, one example under the “Ronald Reagan” page proved to show the conflicting thoughts surrounding the fortieth president of the United States.
“Reagan was the greatest president ever, except for Bush.” – Republicans
“Reagan was the worst president ever, except for Bush.” – Democrats
If you actually care about politics, you’ve probably listened closely to conservatives before. Based on nearly every interview and debate, one can easily see that there is only one person loved more in the conservative world than Ronald Reagan — Jesus Christ himself. No matter what the topic is, a conservative politician seems to always bring up Reagan’s low taxes, idea for a small government, and conservative family values endorsed by, guess who! And it’s not Jesus Christ. Here’s the thing: Reagan is loved by Republicans and Conservatives alike (including big businesses) because he cut taxes for the rich and raised taxes for the middle class. When Reagan came into office as the fortieth president of America, the top tax rate was seventy percent. When he left office eight years later, the top tax rate was only twenty-eight percent. In order to bring money to the government after giving tax breaks to all the rich people of America, Reagan was forced to raise taxes not once, not twice, but eleven times. These were felt hardest by the lower and middle class.
Reagan tripled the national debt. In 1980, the national debt was only $900 billion. However, in 1990, one year after Reagan left his office, the national debt was a little over $2.8 trillion. For more information on the current American debt, which is only going higher every day, feel free to click this link. Under Ronald Reagan, unemployment continued to rise. In 1981, unemployment rates hovered around seven percent. However, as the calender swiped over to 1982, it had rose to eleven percent. Wages froze, low paying jobs were created, and people struggled to meet their needs every week.
Also, if you look at the facts, Reagan’s terms were plagued with terrorism. In 1986, a large group of Americans were held hostage by a terrorist group belonging to Iran. Reagan secretly sold arms and money to Iran in a desperate attempt to free the hostages. The money sent by Reagan eventually made its way to rebels fighting a war in Nicaragua. So, in short, not only did Reagan deal with terrorists, he also basically funded a war against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. As everyone knows, scandals like this always get leaked to the public. However, Reagan attempted to water down the issue. His administration never recovered, but he was far enough into his second (and last) term for it to not affect future Reagan ideas. But, if all this isn’t enough, Reagan spent billions of dollars funding the Islamist mujahidin Freedom Fighters in Afghanistan to prep for a possible war with the Soviets. Billions of dollars, weapons, and training made it’s way to the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. A decade later, they used this against America in the tragic events surrounding 9/11. Yes, Reagan technically funded the same group that eventually brought down the World Trade Center.
Ronald Reagan left office in January 1989, and today he’s still held up high by the modern Republicans. Three decades and four presidents (two Republican, two Democrat) have passed since Reagan’s administration. In reality, history has faded with Reagan’s policies. Today, Reagan probably wouldn’t be elected by current conservative standards. Yet he is still remembered as the God of the Republican Party.
Reagan was not a saint, but he wasn’t the spawn of Satan either. He was a human politician that did what damn near every American president has attempted to do: the best for his country. Depending on your political views, it’s up to you to decide whether or not Reagan is overrated in history.
“World’s Greatest Inventor” is a pretty misleading title. The correct award for Thomas Edison would be “World’s Greatest Businessman”. Or, as several hipsters and artists on the Internet would describe him, “World’s Biggest Douche.” Edison’s 1,093 patents amaze the world and make us question how his mind could have so many ideas all on it’s own. The answer, my dear Watson, is simple. His mind didn’t. Based on facts and records, the only real invention Edison hand crafted on his own was the phonograph. Many of Edison’s other inventions were the work of average technicians. Edison took credit and basically stole patents. He paid as little as he could without paying morally in the least.
Nikola Tesla had the idea of giving everyone free infinite energy. He was so interested in mechanics, he would build something without even a need for his own blueprints. He knew there was an infinite amount of electricity in the world, and he believed that power could have been free for the world in the future with his ideas. However, Edison and other businessmen knew free energy would mean no money. Are you the type of person that learns from corny songs? Click here.
Edison’s best invention, the lightbulb, was not even his own invention. The lightbulb was created by ten other people, yet only Thomas Edison is credited for its creation. Heinrich Goebel, however, was most likely the first person of the ten to have actually invented it, as an idea, back in 1854. Short on cash, tried selling it to Edison, who saw no practical use in the idea and refused, claiming nobody in their right mind would purchase such an idea. Goebel died shortly after that. Afterwards, Edison bought Goebel’s patent, the very same he said no man would ever purchase, off of Goebel’s poor widow at a cost much lower than what Heinrich Goebel had asked for.
Jean Foucault, Heinrich Goebel, Humphrey Davy, J.W. Starr, Nikola Tesla. Are you starting to see a list of people Thomas Edison screwed over for a patent? Joseph Wilson Swan managed to develop, patent, and manufacture a working lightbulb. When it was clear to Edison that Swan had actually succeeded, he partnered with him, forming the Ediswan United Company. Yes, he basically bought Swan and the patent right out from under his nose. Although many men, including Joseph Swan, were paid off, the textbooks still list Thomas Edison as father of the lightbulb. And free energy still sounds pretty nice. Too bad Tesla’s designs weren’t ever used.
Still like Edison? Here’s the kicker! Edison was the driving force behind the present American patent system, used by inventors to protect their works from unauthorized re-creation and sale. Guess what? The system is flawed. The first “inventor”, or in Edison’s case “businessman”, to file a patent is awarded the creation of the idea, even if thousands of other people had the same idea beforehand. Sounds like the perfect company design for a man like Edison, doesn’t it?
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Let me reiterate what I said before. This is a list containing baggage belonging to some of the most famous and cherished people in history. Yes, just about every “peaceful” person in the world that has been written down as a revolutionist and world changer has had a terrible negative side to them. I did research on Mother Theresa and Mahatma Gandhi as well.
In today’s cultural society, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is viewed as a saint. His birthday is a national holiday. His name is placed on top of schools and on street signs. King was incredibly radical. He openly stated that he believed that America needed a “radical redistribution of economic and political power.” Like most Americans during this era, Martin Luther King, Jr. was homophobic. Many accounts show and prove the man was a womanizer.
He also plagiarized nearly everything he spoke. The first sermon he ever gave, at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1947, was plagiarized from Protestant clergyman Harry Emerson Fosdick. The first book he ever wrote, “Stride Towards Freedom”, was a mix of verses and documents written by several sources. His writings are tragically flawed by numerous instances of plagiarism, and his writings were never truly his own beliefs written in form. His essays “The Place of Reason and Experience in Finding God”, “Contemporary Continental Theology”, and “A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Harry Nelson Wieman”, were all plagiarized completely. The last example has been proven to contain over fifty complete sentences from Dr. Jack Boozer’s “The Place of Reason in Paul Tillich’s Concept of God.” His own wife, Coretta Scott King, was an accomplice in his cases of plagiarism.
Martin Luther King also had connections with the Black Panther Party, which could be seen as the black equivalent of the KKK. Fighting for desegregation was not the only thing on the man’s mind. Many sources also show Martin Luther King, Jr. as being interested in Marxism and Communism. Based on this, one can assume he wanted people to pay and things to change much more radically than he got them too.
Well for one, news flash, nobody thought the earth was flat in 1491. The idea that everyone believed the earth was flat during this time is nothing more than a myth developed during the eighteenth century. In fact, the Ancient Greek society had proven that the earth was round thousands of years before Columbus was born. Just straightening things out there. Also, Christopher Columbus discovered a world that had been already inhabited by natives. These people had been living there for at least 14,000 years. New world is an exaggeration. He ended up tainting the “new” world by letting “Europeans” know of it. Even if he truly thought he landed in India, the deed was already done. Yes, he started a new era. No, he didn’t discover it. He wasn’t even the first European to “discover” the Americas. Leif Ericson stepped foot on American soil five hundred years before.
Christopher Columbus knew he stumbled upon a new trading route, but it is more than obvious he did it for the money. He didn’t honestly care about trade routes, he cared about the money that flowed from them and into his pockets. When Columbus left to sail home, he took twenty five natives with him. Only seven survived. Columbus looked past the kindness and riches belonging to the men he brought home. He claimed he could conquer all of them with fifty men and govern them as he pleased. He wanted money and even had the idea of power after discovering his “India”.
By coming to America, Columbus brought smallpox and many other European diseases with him. They ravaged and wiped out thousands of the natives, and the sudden influx of forced labor in their world resulted in the destruction of races and the local ecology. It’s estimated that over three to five million people died in the fifty years after Columbus.
Yet the man who started the trans-Atlantic slave trade movements and the spread of western diseases is honored with a national holiday and, to some extent, the title of discovering America. However, unlike the other four on this list, the negatives Christopher Columbus unknowingly caused are vastly more known when compared to the others.
Nobody in history that is remembered as a saint or a revolutionary was perfect. Humans are humans, and no matter how you look at mankind, there is no such thing as someone who is better than another. The revolutionaries that changed the world had their own dark sides. Their own demons. Their own flaws. Some, like Andrew Jackson, basically ordered the genocide of entire races. Yet, if you read an American history textbook, he is merely labeled as a war hero and the seventh president. Technically, he could be listed as America’s Hitler. At least Hitler won the Nobel Peace Prize and Person of The Year. Some, like Paul Revere, have been the subject of severe changes. They did nothing wrong, but were given a story that never happened. Of course, everyone in history has a dark or warped side to their past. Not everyone deserves the hate they have, like Richard Nixon. Not everyone deserves the love they have, like Ronald Reagan.
Ignorance, arrogance, and personal bias shape society like play-dough. Sometimes history can be forgotten and a story, much like Revere’s can turn into fiction. Sometimes history can be biased and reshaped into something much more acceptable. But, the truth remains, not everyone is perfect. Stories change. Mistakes happen, and there is a negative to every positive. And history repeats itself if we refuse to accept it.