Myths of the American Revolution

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The American Revolution is a pivotal point in United States history, considering it was a main event in the creation of the United States itself. However, there are many myths surrounding it that are widely believed to be true. The main information we remember from elementary school and a lot of what textbooks and history teachers have taught us is at least partially incorrect.

The main myth of the American Revolution is something that all US Americans, as a general rule, believe and agree with. It is something that forms the basis for our entire governmental system and policy of freedom as a country. According to A People’s History of the United States, Thomas Paine visualized the government presented in the Constitution would have a great common interest. He thought it would benefit all people equally, and in doing so, as Howard Zinn put it, he “lent himself perfectly to the myth of the Revolution.” That myth was that the Revolution was for the welfare of a united people.

Contrary to what most US citizens believe and actively support, the United States was not separated from England because people wanted equality. The delegates who made the decision to declare independence and the ones who would most benefit from that were all basically middle-aged, property owning white men. These people made up a relatively small percentage of the population, and therefore the actions they took cannot be defined as for a united people. The people were not, in fact, united at all, but simply following the actions of the Continental Congress and acting out of self-interest for want of money and profit. There were even people who did not want to separate for Great Britain at all and were against independence. The wishes of these people were ignored, and so the idea of the US starting with equality that we all were brought up to believe, is in fact a myth caused by people who were lucky enough to get some land and wind up in a decision-making situation.
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