Nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh falsely asserted that Europeans lacked toilets until the United States "came along." In fact, both the water closet and the valve-type flush toilet were invented by Englishmen in Europe.
The Sulabh International Museum of Toilets reports that precursors to the modern toilet date back to western India, circa 2,500 B.C., when "people had water borne toilets in each house ... linked with drains covered with burnt clay bricks."
Closer antecedents to the modern toilet evolved in Britain and France before the United States even existed as an independent nation. In 1596, "J.D. Harrington, a relative of Queen Elizabeth I, invented the water closet -- a toilet with a chain," according to the Fort Worth, Texas, Star-Telegram. In the years that followed, "Harrington's toilet under the name Angrez was being used in France, though not introduced on a large scale in England," according to the Sulabh Museum.
Englishmen also invented the most direct forerunners to the modern toilet. "The first valve-type flush toilet was introduced in 1738 by a man named J.F. Brondel," an English architect, according to Yahoo.com, which cited the Sulabh Museum. Other Englishmen -- Alexander Cummings, Joseph Bramah, and Albert Giblin -- made subsequent improvements to the toilet between 1775 and 1819, according to the Star-Telegram.
Even the man often falsely credited with inventing the toilet -- Thomas Crapper -- was an English plumber who held nine patents for plumbing products during the late 1800s.
From the June 9 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: You think they had toilets in Europe before we came along? They didn't. They still don't have toilets in Europe that make any sense. Even after we're here. You ever been to Europe? Use some of their toilets, even in some of the finest hotels, it's amazing!