James Patterson loves a collaboration, this much we know. He’s co-authored at least fifty novels, on top of the dozens of solo-authored books. But are any of his co-authors as well known as President Bill Clinton? I think not.
“Working with President Clinton has been the highlight of my career, and having access to his first-hand experience has uniquely informed the writing of this novel,” Patterson said in a statement to Penguin Random House. “I’m a story-teller, and President Clinton’s insight has allowed us to tell a really interesting one. It’s a rare combination — readers will be drawn to the suspense, of course, but they’ll also be given an inside look into what it’s really like to be President.”
President Clinton said he drew on his own experiences in the Oval Office for the book, entitled The President Is Missing. “Working on a book about a sitting President — drawing on what I know about the job, life in the White House, and the way Washington works — has been a lot of fun. And working with Jim has been terrific. I’ve been a fan of his for a very long time.”
In any American history class, it was without a doubt that you would learn about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. The first and sixteenth presidents of the United States have tons of books about lives and time in office. Perhaps people repeat the tale of George Washington’s wooden teeth or call Mr. Lincoln ‘Honest Abe,’ but no one’s ever mentioned poetry.
These men always look so serious in their painted portraits and photographs, but what lies beneath those straight smiles is actually quite spirited and passionate. Both men let their feelings out on paper and it’s actually quite beautiful. Washington was a poet at fifteen, a total youngster, and scribbled this poem out while he was surveying the land in North Virginia:
Image Via Washington Post
From your bright sparkling Eyes, I was undone;
Rays, you have, more transparent than the sun,
Amidst its glory in the rising Day,
None can you equal in your bright array;
Constant in your calm and unspotted Mind;
Equal to all, but will to none Prove kind,
So knowing, seldom one so Young, you’l Find
Ah! woe’s me that I should Love and conceal,
Long have I wish’d, but never dare reveal,
Even though severely Loves Pains I feel;
Xerxes that great, was’t free from Cupids Dart,
And all the greatest Heroes, felt the smart.
Who knew George Washington was so romantic? If you don’t see it yet, this is an acrostic poem, meaning the first letter of each line spells out a word: Frances Alexa. This poem was indeed written for a young girl by the name of Frances Alexander, for whom George felt fondly. Yet we’re wondering why he never completed her full name in his poem? He had four more letters, but perhaps the woes of love struck his hand and heart too hard. Or he simply ran out of ideas.
According to the Washington Post, John Lundburg, a poetry professor, describes the writing as mediocre. “It’s not a winter at Valley Forge disaster, but you can see Washington struggling to hold his poem together: he mangles syntax to fit the iambic pentameter, and has more than a few awkward lines.” This ode to Frances is one of the only other known poems by the president. His wife Martha burned all written correspondence between them as per his request after his death.
But wait. Washington wasn’t the only one tossing lovely poetry and prose around. Lincoln was a poet for life, whether it was scribbled on the side of his school book or an address at Gettysburg. Although some of his work was also destroyed, we can still read an excerpt from “My Childhood Home I See Again.” It’s a bit more sad than Washington’s, as it makes us question if we could ever really go home. It’s nearly two dozen verses, but here are a few:
My childhood’s home I see again,
And sadden with the view;
And still, as memory crowds my brain,
There’s pleasure in it too.
O Memory! thou midway world
’Twixt earth and paradise,
Where things decayed and loved ones lost
In dreamy shadows rise,
And, freed from all that’s earthly vile,
Seem hallowed, pure, and bright,
Like scenes in some enchanted isle,
All bathed in liquid light.
I range the fields with pensive tread,
And pace the hollow rooms;
And feel (companion of the dead)
I’m living in the tombs.
Even the poet Robert Pinsky himself said Lincoln’s poem is “the real thing.” He rarely ever shared his work with anyone other than close friends, but after his assassination a small part of his poem was published in the newspaper. Although Jimmy Carter was the only president to publish a book of poems, the Library of Congress still keeps a collection of all presidential poetry. Start reading them here!
One would think finding hair in your book would give you the same disgust as hair in your food, but if that hair is actually a lock of President George Washington’s iconic grey hair, all bets are off.
Archivists at Schenectady’s Union College in New York found the artifact in an 18th-century almanac titled Gaines Universal Register or American and British Kalendar for the year 1793. The almanac was found on top of a bookshelf at the college’s Schaffer Library.
Inside the book was an envelope that read “Washington’s hair, L.S.S. & [scratched out] GSB from James A. Hamilton, given him by his mother, Aug. 10, 1871.” The hair was tied with a thread within the envelope.
Image Via Matt Milless, Union College
So how did this rare artifact of American history make it to this library? The book belonged to Philip J. Schuyler, son of college founder Gen. Philip Schuyler, who was a friend of Washington’s. Historians are suggesting that Martha Washington gave the hair to Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, the wife of Alexander Hamilton, and the hair and the almanac became a family heirloom.
While the college admits it can’t definitively prove the hair was Washington’s, manuscript dealer John Reznikoff believes it to be “100% authentic” and worth between $2,000 and $3,000.
India Spartz, Union College’s head of special collections and archives said, “As an archivist, we come across interesting material all of the time, but this is such a treasure for the campus.” The college plans to preserve the lock of hair and put it on display.