Last week, American historians were stunned as their most distinguished character was embroiled in scandal. President Washington, it has been learned, failed to return two books to the New York Society Library. A newfound ledger records that, in 1789, Washington was brushing up on Emmerich de Vattel's Law of Nations and debates from the House of Commons. However, he-who-could-not-tell-a-lie failed to return the books - raking up a $300,000 late charge!
Mount Vernon, on a related theme, is finally opening a library dedicated to the first president. A WaPo story calls it an "ambitious and noble project that will fill an astonishing void. At a time when presidential libraries are monuments to legacy and ego, it is surprising that the first president of the United States doesn't have one." I find it illuminating, rather than surprising, that successive presidents have seen to their own "legacy and ego," whereas the greatest and humblest of their fellows has gone ever-more neglected and forgotten.
Perhaps the Father of the Nation deserves a bit of clemency on the fine.