Conspiracy Theories That Turned Out To Be True

While many, if not most, conspiracy theories are completely outlandish, conspiracies themselves are very real. Any group of people plotting to do something against the law (even if the law is unjust) is technically a conspiracy, and there have been many throughout history. Some of these true conspiracy theories were plots to assassinate leaders, others were plots to game the system in business. Most failed eventually, leading to the conspirators facing fines, jail time, or even death.

The real conspiracies discussed here, proven to be true, come from many different countries and different historical eras. We know all about them, how they were perpetrated and, in many cases, the damage they caused. Whether it's the plot to kill a leader or a billion-dollar scheme by a multinational corporation, these true conspiracies were all dragged out into the light.

From Watergate to the assassination that jump started World War I, some insane conspiracy theories weren't just theories, they turned out to be just some of the troubling true stories that mark the history of the human race. Which conspiracy theories are true? Read on to find out which ones really happened! And if you're interested in this kind of material, check out this list of some great conspiracy theory TV shows you can watch now. 

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  • Lincoln's Assassination

    Lincoln's Assassination
    Photo: Unknown/T. M. McAllister / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln was not the act of a crazed lone gunman, but an organized conspiracy of four shooters to kill the president, vice-president, and Secretary of State in one massive coup.

    Only John Wilkes Booth successfully carried out his role, with the other two planned shootings resulting in Secretary of State William Seward being wounded, and Vice President Johnson being spared by the cowardice of his planned killer.

  • The Trusts of 19th Century America

    The Trusts of 19th Century America
    Photo: Harris and Ewing / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Up until the trust-busting presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, a small group of powerful and wealthy business owners conspired to monopolize their various interests. This was done through price-fixing, bribery, intimidation, union busting, and running small business into the ground through unfair competition. An enormous amount of wealth was eventually concentrated in a few giant combinations, called trusts, which were almost as powerful as the government.

    These trusts were eventually broken up through lawsuits and legislation, but many of their successor companies still corner the market today in oil, mining, manufacturing, and food production.

  • Lenin Returns to Russia

    Lenin Returns to Russia
    Photo: М.С. Наппельбаум / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    With the tide of World War I starting to turn against the German Empire, drastic steps needed to be taken to get Russia out of the war and move its troops to the Western Front. In early 1917, German authorities allowed exiled communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin to cross Germany from Switzerland to Sweden in a sealed railway car. German authorities hoped that the return of the anti-war Lenin to Russia would help overthrow the government and undermine the Russian war effort.

    Berlin was right, and thanks to the communist revolutionaries led by Lenin, Russia was out of the war less than a year later.

  • The Black Hand Assassinates Franz Ferdinand

    The Black Hand Assassinates Franz Ferdinand
    Photo: Carl Pietzner / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    A secret society, called The Black Hand, made up of Serbian nationals seeking to unify various Serbian enclaves, conspired to assassinate the Austrian Archduke. Their goal was to break off the southern Slavic provinces of Austria-Hungary and create a unified Slavic nation.

    Six members traveled to Sarajevo to carry out the deed, having been trained and equipped by additional conspirators in the Serbian military. One of them, Serbian student Gavrilo Princip, succeeded. His  act initiated the First World War.

  • Prohibition Alcohol Poisioning

    Prohibition Alcohol Poisioning
    Photo: Archives of Ontario, C.H.J. Snider fonds / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The US Department of the Treasury, in its efforts to enforce the Volstead Act, added deadly chemicals to the industrial alcohol that was being used by bootleggers as a substitute for grain alcohol. They hoped to make a few scofflaws sick and to discourage others from drinking cheap alcohol.

    It's been estimated that by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, at least 10,000 people had been killed by the federal poisoning program.

  • The July 20th Plot

    The July 20th Plot
    Photo: German Federal Archives / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.0

    On July 20, 1944, senior-level members of the German military and civilian leadership conspired to kill Adolf Hitler by planting a bomb in the Wolf's Lair conference room at his military headquarters. The plot, dramatized in the Tom Cruise film Valkyrie, failed when the bomb was accidentally moved away from Hitler at the last second.  One person died and three others were mortally wounded, however, Hitler survived unscathed.

    After the failed assassination attempt, most individuals involved in the conspiracy committed suicide or were executed.