we’ve had threads before about movies in which the heroes are switched to Americans, when the reality was quite different (The Great Escape and U-571, for two examples), and the recent thread on the War of 1812 points out how that conflict is taught in US schools with a definite US bias, but the American “centrism” of a lot of our scooling and of articles is a great deal more widespread. I’m surprised how much the achievements of others are overlooked in this regard.

as an example, consider Ironclads. They make a big deal about the Monitor and the Merrimack in US schooling. even ignoring the fact that the “Merrimack” was actually rebuilt considerably and rechristened the “Virginia”, therre’s the fact that these were by no means the first ironclad ships, being preceded by the French Gloire and the British Warrior (which still exists)

Or take the example of Submarines. From most accounts you’d get the impression that Bushnell’s Turtle was the first practical sub, although there are examples of operating British and German 9and maybe French) cases.

Or steamships – we were taught that Fulton’s Clermont was the first. Again, the name is wrong (Fulton never named it the “Clermont”. It was called the “North River Steam Boat”, and later “THe North River of Clermont”, since it docked at Clermont), but plenty of examples preceded it. I have a British book here that has Fulton’s ship sixth ion a progression of operating steambots goinn back almost a century earlier.
Even in art and pop culture. American references tend to declare Outcalt’s "The Yellow Kid’ as the first comic strip, but he was preceded by the British “Alley Sloper”, and arguably by the German “Max und Moritz”

One can always ferret out earlier examples of things if one looks long and hard, but these examples aren’t of really obscure things – they were well-known in theior country of origin, and often in the rest of the world. They just seem to be cases of not looking beyond our own shiores in compiling lists of early cases.

Oh, yeah, another example – Mass Production of Uniform Parts. We give credit to Eli Whitney for this, coming up with parts for guns that were interchangeable. But 1.) there’s evidence that Whitney “fudged” his examples, and used customized fits in his guns; 2.) Whitney wasn’t the first tro use it for manufactured guns. As Richard Schenkman points out in one of hios books, Thomas Jefferson had seen an example of standardized gun manufacture much earlier.

and 3.) The principle of standardized manufacture was used much earlier by the British in the manufacture of Block and Tackle for the British Navy, something James Burke pointed out in one of his series (I think Connections). They made an almost mechanical “assembly line” for the manufacture of such parts using machinery that required no craftsmanship whatsoever and minimal training for the workmen. Had sinmple automation been available, they wouldn’t have needed workmen at all.