Washington’s Birthday

George WashingtonYou probably think that today was President’s Day. But you are wrong: according to the federal government, it was Washington’s Birthday. And in keeping with my tradition of ruining holidays, this makes my task much easier. Although note: there is no reason to destroy good holidays like this one where nothing is expected of me. What’s more, today a lot of people were writing that I wasn’t expecting. Jonathan Chait was in fine form. And The Plum Line blog was working at about half capacity.

As is more or less common knowledge, George Washington was the richest president we ever had, even though he never got to see a movie and there is a lot of folklore to the effect that his access to dental care was poor. And he didn’t have very good healthcare. He got sick and his doctor bled him to death. But that’s pretty common today: doctors kill a lot more people than is normally realized. But he did have one thing that we don’t: slaves. In fact, he had 300 of them. And that and his land is the basis of his vast wealth. Interestingly, the second richest president was Jefferson. Hmm, what do they have in common? (Jefferson had more slaves: over 650!)

So maybe we should change the name of this holiday to something more appropriate like: Slave Owning Bastards We Revere Day. Or: Our Dirty Little Secret Day. Or: Ain’t Slavery Grand Day! (That last one needs the exclamation mark as part of its name.) The funny thing is that most people rate Washington very highly as president—often as number one. I’ve never really understood this. To me, the only great thing he did (and I admit, this is a big deal) is step down after two terms. Certainly, he was popular enough to have taken the country in a very bad direction. Then again, because of the bleeding, he died shortly after leaving office, so maybe it didn’t matter.

Regardless, it’s nice to have a day off. I just wish it were for a better reason. How about Typhoid Mary Day?!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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