Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann is beloved by some for her clear and simple stories of American history, peppered with references that bring back warm, fuzzy memories of simple, morally unambiguous school lessons. The problem is, though, that Bachmann doesn't always have the greatest grasp of history. Her latest gaffe came Saturday, when she mixed New Hampshire up with Massachusetts when it came to the Revolutionary War. This wasn't the first, though. Below, a quick list of Bachmann's historical blunders.
On Saturday, Bachmann told New Hampshire Republicans, "You’re the state where the shot was heard around the world at Lexington and Concord,” Politico's Jonathan Martin and Kendra Marr report. She was explaining that it's important to fight hard for the right thing--in this case, bigger spending cuts. Unfortunately for Bahmann, the battles of Lexington and Concord were in Massachusetts, not New Hampshire. She made the same error at an earlier stop in the state.
In January, she told Iowans that “the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States.” Of course, some of the Founding Fathers were slave owners (classic example: Thomas Jefferson). And they all died long before the Civil War, when Lincoln finally freed all slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation. The Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, several years later, finally formally abolished slavery.
Bachmann also claimed John Quincy Adams “would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the country.” Quincy was a kid when the Declaration of Independence was signed, and he died 18 years before the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified.
In February, she marveled that the people who came to America were "risk takers." Bachmann continued, "Other than Native Americans who were here, all of us have the same story. ... And they knew when they came here they weren't coming for a welfare state. ... They were coming here for the thrill of writing their own ticket. ... Who did we attract? People that wanted a better life and were willing to do what it took to get it." Bachmann pointed to this risk-taking history as a reason it goes against our national character to have much of a government role in health care. The problem? A lot of people didn't choose to come here, being refugees, fugitives, or, and this is a key one, here, slaves. That makes Bachmann's conclusion all the more jarring: “it is almost breathtaking to even say it, but can we truly say that today we are truly free?”
Last April, Bachmann explained on the House floor that an overregulated economy only makes a recession worse. Just look at the "Hoot-Smalley Tariff," she said, passed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Whereas President Coolidge responded to a recession by cutting taxes--and the Roaring Twenties was the result. FDR, on the other hand, passed this tariff, turning a recession into a decade of depression, Bachmann said.
The thing is, FDR didn't pass the "Hoot-Smalley Tariff"--actually named the Smoot-Hawley Act, after the congressmen who sponsored it--Hoover did. Congress had "watered it down to nothing by 1934," the year after FDR took office, Politics Daily's Denise Williams explains.
Interestingly, in the case of her Concord gaffe, Bachmann did not concede that one little factual error undercut her argument. You know how when you think of a funny comeback hours after someone zings you? Well Facebook is there to remedy that. Bachmann posted a note on her profile that refused to concede her Concord gaffe in anyway undercut her argument: “It was my mistake, Massachusetts is where they happened. New Hampshire is where they are still proud of it!”
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.