Letters to the Editor

Leave fractured history to presidential candidates

As much as I enjoy reading Wally’s usually amusing columns, I have to cry foul to his celebration of the Fourth of July and the Founding Fathers. The errors were numerous and easily fact-checked.

First, Thomas Jefferson and his slave mistress, Sally Hemings: Sally was only 9 years old when Martha Jefferson died so it is unlikely he was having an affair with her while married.

John Paine is obviously a reference to Thomas Paine who was not a Founding Father but rather a rabble rouser of genius proportions whose only claim to fame from the founding of this country was the writing of two wonderfully effective pamphlets.

Assuming Wally was referring to Ben Franklin as “Old Ben,” there is no evidence that he was a notable drinker and although he did have one son out of wedlock (William Franklin, the Royal Governor of New Jersey at the beginning of the Revolution), there is no evidence of any other affairs after his (common-law) marriage in 1730. Walter Isaacson recently wrote a definitive biography of Ben Franklin which I would recommend to Wally.

Third, Patrick Henry was a committed opponent of the Constitution, tried to prevent its adoption, and most definitely did not go to France and fight in their revolution. He died of cancer and is buried in Virginia near where he died.

And finally, just to cavil a bit, the first known mention of the word cocktail, according to several etymological dictionaries, was in 1806, some 30 years after the alleged rooster feather.

Thanks for the entertainment Wally, but let’s leave the fractured history to presidential candidates.

Robert DuChaine


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