Monday, March 07, 2005

History House: Put it on George's Tab

History House: Put it on George's Tab. A brief look at Washington's extravagant expense account while General of the Continental Army.

From the site:

Of course, Washington is a famously humorless man, and the late president enjoys this reputation as the result of his own tireless labor. He intentionally curbed his wittier self in an effort to solidify a legacy as a sober statesman. George followed in the steps of Benjamin Franklin, who subscribed to "charity, humility and pacific temper." However, Franklin seems to have taken these words with a grain of salt, as he somehow managed to pen an essay called "Fart Proudly" in the interim.

By contrast, George easily followed that maxim because he wasn't funny at all. The man was so spectacularly unfunny that when P.M. Zall tried to write a book called George Washington Laughing in an effort to prove otherwise, he had to stop after only 52 pages. As if that weren't bad enough, most of these episodes describe jokes being told in Washington's presence rather than being uttered by the man himself. The President appears to have enjoyed pratfalls and seeing the hats of clergymen get blown into lakes, but rare was the day a witticism passed his lips. Surely, such a stoic, servile man would be content with meager rations. So Congress must have thought when it approved his expense account. Fortunately for posterity, a complete record of Washington's account exists. You can even look at scans of it, in entirety, online. The father of the United States, it seems, was magnificent at padding his accounts.

No comments: