As we celebrate the birth month of our nation, I’m still writing about it — even though July is half over — because it turns out, the signers of the Declaration of Independence …
As we celebrate the birth month of our nation, I’m still writing about it — even though July is half over — because it turns out, the signers of the Declaration of Independence straggled in for weeks, most signing in August.
Now you’ll argue, “Wait a doggone minute, I’ve seen drawings and those founders are all in the same room, looking over each other’s shoulders, as one by one they sit in the chair to put quill to paper.” I know. I’ve seen those pictures too, but you’ll have to trust me, they’re photoshopped.
So, we can continue celebrating for weeks, with barbecue’s, concerts and picnics, with or without masks, and with or without the king’s approval, which is why we fought the Revolutionary War in the first place.
When it comes to our Founding Fathers, we’re aware they were rock star legends, with an abundance of grit and guts, but there’s a few things you perhaps didn’t have knowledge of, but now you will, and as a grandson likes to quip, “Lucky you.”
With limited space, we’ll start with Alexander Hamilton, whose image we see every day on the $10 bill. He was the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and adviser in financial policy. I could do that: I have a clever fiscal motto, “Spend less than you make.” Alexander’s birthplace was on the island Nevis in the West Indies. Being illegitimate, since his parents weren’t legally married, the Church of England denied him an education in the church school, so he was sent to the colonies for tutelage. He was orphaned at age 13, never finished school, got a business apprenticeship, started the New York Post and had quite the reputation as a ladies’ man. Martha Washington named a Tomcat “Hamilton” in tribute to Alexander’s notoriety. I think I’d have loved shopping with Martha.
Samuel Adams, known as the “Father of the American Revolution,” was a leader in the revolt against England. Who couldn’t love Sam Adams?
In his early life he had a stint as a tax collector but often failed to collect taxes from fellow citizens, which increased his popularity. I’ll say. I’d have birthed his babies in another life. In 1773, the governor of Massachusetts tried to bribe Samuel to quit his fight against the British. We know he refused, but we don’t know his reply, so we’ll imagine, “I’m going to have a beverage named after me one day you bloody twit, now bugger off.” (For the record, it’s Paul Revere, not Sam Adams, on the label of “Samuel Adams” beer.)
Gouverneur Morris, his real name, God rest his soul, obviously had parents who were practical jokers. He drafted the preamble of the Constitution, “We the People of the United States ….” which earned him the nickname, “Penman of the Constitution.”
In 1780, he lost a leg after jumping from a balcony and colliding with a carriage to escape the husband of a woman he was uh, um, playing cricket with. His leg, replaced with a pirate’s wooden pegleg, didn’t slow him as he continued to climb church steeples, shoot river rapids and in 1813 became a father for the first time at age 61.
He died three years later after attempting to clear a urinary tract blockage with a whale bone from his wife’s corset. This might be on a list of things not to try at home.
Thomas Jefferson could read and write in Greek, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish and English and is thought to have known Arabic, Gaelic and Welsh, but his real accomplishments were twofold: He introduced mac and cheese to the U.S., making every colonial kid very happy, then when the haughty French looked down their noses on America, Thomas, America’s ambassador to France, had a dead moose sent over in a year-long voyage and delivered to the upper crusts in its decomposing state. It was a show of American’s boldness. Gee, that wasn’t weird at all.
While together visiting William Shakespeare’s house in England, Thomas and John Adams vandalized a chair by chipping off chunks to keep as souvenirs. Boys, for heaven’s sake.
George Washington had bullets graze him, nearly drowned in an icy river, survived malaria, smallpox, pleurisy and dysentery, and once remarked to a rotund General Knox, “Shift that fat arse Harry, but slowly, or you’ll swamp the boat.” He was a compassionate, yet tough, no-nonsense type, who still owes $300,000 in overdue library fines. Apparently, he died rather than pay, leaving us to conclude George was also stubborn.