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July 4th And The Other George W.

Free Portrait of President George Washington Seated at a Desk in 1789. Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart
Since it’s almost the 4th of July and we’re having an exceptional cherry season, I find myself recalling the story of how George W. (no, not him, I mean the first president) was lionized for copping to the fact that he’d chopped down a cherry tree.

We all bought this story, until it was exposed as bogus: G.W. did neither the chopping nor the copping. It seems a parson named Mason Locke Weems wrote a biography of Washington shortly after his death, and found his subject so boring, he did some imaginative detailing to juice up G.W.’s tedious story, including the cherry tree business.

In the days when I believed the story, I wondered why nobody ever questioned Washington’s motives for chopping the tree down in the first place. I mean, if my kid took out the orange tree in our backyard, I would see it as a random act of rage worthy of a visit to the therapist. (Luckily my kids are too busy on Facebook to bother chopping an onion, let alone a tree.)

I’m thinking that, had the cherry tree story circulated when Washington was running for president, the outcome of the election could have been very different. Voters might have stopped to consider, before they pulled the lever, the following question: when the red phone rings in the White House at three a.m. (or the 1789 equivalent, some Paul Revere type shows up), would you be comfortable with a president who’s capable of an act as irrational as random tree-chopping?

Food for thought. And speaking of food, click here to check out the recipe for cherry salad in The Crabby Cook section of this blog….


3 Responses
  1. Suzanne! says:

    Front page NYTimes today….George Washington’s boyhood home confirmed….no cherry tree remains or ax handles found…..check it out.

  2. Dave Shaw says:

    I’m a Canuck, so really have no say in this but to remark upon such irrational acts as gaining notoriety by taking down a cherry tree or, say, fixing an election then randomly starting a war…little things like that that presidents are wont to do…

  3. […] as many of you pointed out, shortly after I wrote about George W. and the cherry tree chopping, archeologists discovered Ferry Farm, G. W.’s long lost plantation, and the cherry […]

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