Trump said George Washington’s army ‘took over airports.’ Twitter erupted in memes

President Trump speaks in the rain behind glass during a July 4 celebration in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

President Trump blamed a faulty teleprompter for a gaffe in his Fourth of July speech, in which he claimed that the Continental Army “took over airports” during the Revolutionary War — more than a century before the dawn of aviation — but his remarks still inspired a storm of social media hilarity.

“The Battle of Baggage Claim (1776) Many Lives were lost. And Bags too,” a Twitter user called @King_Of_Shade tweeted, along with a photoshopped image of George Washington crossing the Delaware — in an airport.

#RevolutionaryWarAirportStories trended on Twitter as users aired their contemporary travel problems with a 1776 twist.


The inspiration was two apparent anachronisms in Trump’s speech from the Lincoln Memorial, delivered during a rainstorm, in which he discussed the revolutionary army seizing victory from the British.

“The Continental Army suffered a bitter winner at Valley Forge, found glory across the waters of the Delaware and seized victory from Cornwallis of Yorktown,” Trump said in his speech, referring to the 1781 surrender by British Gen. Charles Cornwallis at the Battle of Yorktown. “Our Army manned the air, it ran the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do.”

The Wright brothers didn’t make their first successful flight until 1903.

Trump immediately went on to speak about the star-spangled banner flying at Fort McHenry, as if this historical anecdote was also about the Revolutionary War. The flag that inspired the U.S. national anthem was flown over Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812.


On Friday, Trump chalked up his mistakes to teleprompter problems and the rain.

“The teleprompter did go out and it was actually hard to look at anyway because there was rain all over it but despite the rain it was just a fantastic evening,” Trump told reporters afterward, according to Time magazine.

Trump has a conflicted relationship with teleprompters. While he uses them routinely now, he used to ridicule President Obama for relying on them, calling him a “teleprompter guy” and saying “you don’t want a scripted president.”

Trump has slipped up in making historical references before. He referred to Frederick Douglass during a 2017 Black History Month event as if he were still alive, even though the famed abolitionist died in 1895. He also claimed that President Andrew Jackson was angry about “what was happening” with the Civil War, although Jackson died 16 years before the war began.