Setting the Record Straight on Paul Revere

When I was a professor of Business Administration at ULACIT, I was surprised of how many misconceptions survived amongst our college students.

Misconceptions are not only abundant within the students’ communities, but in the media as well and in society as a whole.

The purpose of this post is to introduce the topic of misconceptions and try to clear some of the most popular ones.

A misconception happens when a person believes in a concept that is objectively false.

Many people have difficulty letting go of misconceptions because the false concepts may be deeply embedded in the mental map of an individual. Some people also don’t like to be proven wrong and will continue clinging to a misconception in the face of evidence to the contrary. I hope you will help me in setting the record straight and start crushing popular misconceptions in an effort to give light to the objective truth.

Now let’s get down to business. Below are five uncontroversial, undisputed clarifications to popular misconceptions:

  1. Paul Revere was not the only American colonist who rode to warn the Minute Men of the British before the battle of Lexington and Concord of the American Revolutionary War. The story of Paul Revere is largely based on the poem “Paul Revere’s Ride”, written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1860 (see Paul Revere’s Ride).
  2. Napoleon Bonaparte was not especially short. After his death in 1821, the French emperor’s height was recorded as 5 feet 2 inches in French feet. This corresponds to 5 feet 6.5 inches in modern international feet, or 1.686 meters, making him slightly taller than an average Frenchman of the 19th century. The metric system was introduced during his lifetime, so it was natural that he would be measured in feet and inches for much of his life. His nickname, “le petit caporal“, adds to the confusion, as non-francophones mistakenly take petit literally as meaning “small”; in fact, it is an affectionate term reflecting on his camaraderie with ordinary soldiers. He also surrounded himself with soldiers, his elite guard, who were always six feet tall or more.
  3. It is believed that the phrase “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” (“Let them eat cake”) was not said by Marie Antoinette, but by another noble (a princess in another country, at another time). An argument to support this theory is that the cake had not been invented at the time of the French Revolution. Also, Jean-Jacques Rousseau recounts the anecdote (with “pastry” in place of “cake”) in the 6th book of his “Confessions” three years before Marie Antoinette joined the court at Versailles in 1770.
  4. French fries probably originated in Belgium. The name comes from the cooking term “to french” which means to cut food into strips, hence they are “frenched and fried”.
  5. Koalas are not bears. They are not even placental mammals; they are marsupials. The giant panda, however, is a bear, while the red panda is closely related to raccoons.

This is a dense topic with numerous misconceptions which can’t all be included here for obvious reasons. For further information, kindly click here.

2 thoughts on “Setting the Record Straight on Paul Revere”

  1. Hi Catherine:

    Now that you mention it, it’s true.  It’s a coincidence that I selected three French topics.  Napoleon is one my favorite topics, specially the rumor that he was poisoned with mercuric cyanide.

    I just read your post about Marie-Antoinette.  You have an exquisite taste.  I can also see that you are a professional writer.  Congratulations on your new book.

    Thank you for your comments.  I’m honored.

    Best Regards,


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