The Black Sox baseball players
At the 1919 World Series, eight Chicago White Sox baseball players intentionally lost against the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for a gambling bribe of $100,000 (nearly $1.5 million today). People grew suspicious when the White Sox athletes started to play uncharacteristically bad in the best-of-nine championship Series. A grand jury investigated the scandalous allegations when the crooked players, dubbed the Black Sox for their shady sports conduct, were indicted on nine counts of conspiracy. “I don’t know why I did it,” pitcher Eddie Cicotte told the grand jury. “I needed the money. I had the wife and kids.” But the court’s records documenting their confessions mysteriously vanished, which acquitted the “Black Sox” athletes of all charges with nothing more than a permanent ban from playing Major League Baseball. Even more well-known “facts” that made history are wrong, including these 18 history lessons your teacher lied to you about.
P.T. Barnum’s circus of frauds
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Phineas Taylor Barnum created a show of fantastical acts that entertained millions of people. But if you were to get a backstage pass to the so-called Greatest Show on Earth, you’d find that Mr. Barnum made his money off of white lies, embellishments, and exploitations. Joice Heth, an elderly former slave, was the first person he exploited for other people’s amusement. Although slavery was outlawed in New York where he lived, he found a loophole and leased her for a year for $1,000. He paraded her around on tour as he falsely claimed that she was the 161-year-old former nurse of George Washington. After she died, he kicked his exploitations up a notch by performing a live autopsy on her to “reveal” that she was only 84 years old. Others who joined his circus of “natural and national curiosities of the world” were conjoined Chinese twins Chang and Eng, the original “Siamese Twins,” General Tom Thumb, a 25-inch-tall dwarf named Charles Stratton, among many others.