July is the season of barbecues and coolers full of watermelon and supermarket-brand soda. In the United States, at least, it all happens in the service of the nation’s birthday. On the 4th day of this month, Americans celebrate 236 years of independence from their British oppressors, who wanted them to pay taxes on stamps or spell the word “color” with an extra ‘u’ or something. But, as leading political figures occasionally remind us, a lot of what we think we know about the nation’s Founding Fathers is actually a load of hooey. Let Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings give you liberty from all the misinformation before you run for office yourself and make one of these red-white-and-bloopers.
Independence Myth #2: George Washington Had Wooden Teeth.
The oft-repeated story that the Father of His Country had to contend with a mouthful of ill-fitting wooden teeth is, unfortunately, exactly as accurate as most of the other stuff we know about our first president: that he told the truth about the cherry tree, that he threw a silver dollar across the Potomac, all that stuff.