There are three matters of library business to mention before I get into the meat of this month’s article. The first is a correction: our book club, Leaburg Bookworms, meets on the THIRD Monday of each month, not the second. Sorry about that. The second is a congratulations: two new members have been elected to our Library Board, Barbara Theus and Steve Mealey, so we heartily welcome them aboard. The third item concerns a vacuum cleaner that has gone missing. We had it for years, but now it appears to have found a new home somewhere, so we need a replacement. If anyone has one that could be donated to the library we would be ecstatic. The floors are looking pretty grungy these days.
This month the topic is politics, but before you throw the paper down in disgust, bear with me. If you think the current campaign and those in recent memory have been vitriolic, mean-spirited, less than honest, and below-the-belt nasty (which they have), take a look at this. While you are reading, keep in mind that the year is 1800; our country was quite new. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were vying for the presidency, and the gloves were off.
Jefferson had secretly hired James Callendar to distribute propaganda against Adams, and distribute he did. Callendar called Adams a “repulsive pedant, a gross hypocrite; in his private life, one of the most egregious fools upon the continent. He is that strange compound of ignorance and ferocity, of deceit and weakness, a hideous hermaphroditical character which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.” Stories appeared in some newspapers ridiculing Adams as “old, addled and toothless.” The most vicious rumors charged that he was insane, a Tory, and “quite mad.”
Jefferson also found himself on the receiving end of “damaging accounts which decried him as a hopeless visionary, a weakling, more French than American and therefore a bad man. He was charged with infidelity to the Constitution, called a spendthrift and a libertine. One New York paper said that he had swindled clients as a young lawyer, and that he was a Godless man. A whispering campaign began to the effect that all southern slave masters were known to cohabit with slave women and that the Sage of Monticello was no exception.”
I’d like to see today’s candidates get away with diatribes like these!! Somehow what we’re hearing during this campaign season seems pretty tame!
The excerpts were taken from David McCullough’s fabulous biography, John Adams, himself a remarkable man. The library has this as well as many other books about the men and women who courageously shaped the history of our magnificent country, and about others who currently have an impact on our lives. Come see us.
I’ll see you at the library.
Marty Mealey, Director