Most of us know George Washington only as the guy we see on the dollar bill: dour, unsmiling, hiding those wooden teeth from the world. Open up your wallet, pull out one of those green pieces of paper (if you still have any, after the past five years), and take a look. The dude was all business.
Wrong! As Stanton Peele notes at Reason.com, the Founding Fathers were more like the Pounding Fathers. As in pounding gallons and gallons of booze!
It is impossible for Americans to accept the extent to which the Colonial period—including our most sacred political events—was suffused with alcohol…
Indeed, we still have available the bar tab from a 1787 farewell party in Philadelphia for George Washington just days before the framers signed off on the Constitution. According to the bill preserved from the evening, the 55 attendees drank 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, eight of whiskey, 22 of porter, eight of hard cider, 12 of beer, and seven bowls of alcoholic punch.
That’s more than two bottles of fruit of the vine, plus a number of shots and a lot of punch and beer, for every delegate. That seems humanly impossible to modern Americans. But, you see, across the country during the Colonial era, the average American consumed many times as much beverage alcohol as contemporary Americans do. Getting drunk—but not losing control—was simply socially accepted.
Killin’ redcoats, swillin’ red wine… It was all the same to those cats.
One of the few things I like about Obama, other than his dazzling smile and the fact that I can hit the Mute button whenever I hear the sound of his voice, is that he’s happy to enjoy a beer in public. Even if it’s just phony populism, it’s good to see. And you know he’ll always pick up the tab. After all, it’s not his money!
And don’t even get me started on Hillary Clinton. If hitting the sauce is an indicator of presidential timber, she’s up there with Washington himself.
So, the next time you’re enjoying a drink or two or seven, you can rationalize it as stumbling in George Washington’s footsteps. Just remember: The worst thing that could’ve happened to him on his way home was falling off his horse. Don’t drink and drive.
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