President Trump made a bit of a historical blunder during his Fourth of July “Salute to America” speech Thursday, when he said that the Continental Army “took over the airports” from the British during the American Revolutionary War in the 1770s.
During his hour-long speech at the grounds of Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., Trump stayed largely off politics.
Trump praised the Americans’ military efforts in the war against Great Britain. “Our army manned the air, it rammed the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do, and at Fort McHenry, under the rockets’ red glare, it had nothing but victory,” he said.
Of course, as many viewers noted, airports––and military airplanes––are a 20th century invention. The first powered flight of an airplane was officially attributed to the Wright brothers, who accomplished their feat in 1903. Trump also praised the Wright brothers earlier in his Independence Day speech.
Other observant listeners picked up on a second historical error in the speech. Trump’s reference to Fort McHenry and “rockets’ red glare”––the Battle of Baltimore at which the words to the “Star-Spangled Banner” were written––took place during the War of 1812, not the Revolutionary War.
The President blamed his weird reference to Revolutionary War armies taking over airports on the teleprompter going black, claiming he was “right in the middle of that sentence” when it cut out.
“The teleprompter went out, it kept going on and then at the end it just went out, it went kaput, so I could’ve said — and actually right in the middle of that sentence it went out and that’s not a good feeling,” he said. “When you’re standing in front of millions and millions of people on television and I don’t know what the final count was but that went all the way back to the Washington Monument.
“I knew the speech very well,” he continued. “So I was able to do it without a teleprompter but the teleprompter did go out.”
The President has made several history-related errors during his time in office. In 2017, he argued that Andrew Jackson could have prevented the Civil War from happening, when Jackson actually died 16 years before the war started.
Referring to the War of 1812 during a tense 2018 phone call with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump reportedly said “Didn’t you guys burn down the White House?” However, it was British troops that burned down the White House during the War of 1812, not Canadian forces.
During his July 4th speech, President Donald Trump says American forces “took over the airports” during the US War of Independence in the late 18th century.— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) July 5, 2019
Planes were not used in warfare until the 20th century. pic.twitter.com/pxhYVdfGz4