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George Washington Racks Up 220 Years of Late Fees At Library 146

Posted by samzenpus
from the at-least-he-read dept.
Everyone knows that George Washington couldn't tell a lie. What you probably didn't know is that he couldn't return a library book on time. From the article: "New York City's oldest library says one of its ledgers shows that the president has racked up 220 years' worth of late fees on two books he borrowed, but never returned. One of the books was the 'Law of Nations,' which deals with international relations. The other was a volume of debates from Britain's House of Commons. Both books were due on Nov. 2, 1789."

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George Washington Racks Up 220 Years of Late Fees At Library

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  • by Doug52392 (1094585) on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:16PM (#31898498)
    ... in $1 bills.
    • Better in quarters...

    • He must have read it somewhere in 'Laws of nations' that keeping things you borrow with you for ever is not a punishable act by law.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Shakrai (717556)

      You've got a +5 funny right now, but you won't think this is a laughing matter when Philip Baker Hall shows up at Mount Vernon to collect the debt....

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by eleuthero (812560)
        Mount Vernon isn't the Washington estate - it is owned by a private company (they manage several historic properties - similar to the Patrimonio Nacional company in Spain and various others that own most of the royal palaces in Europe). Finding heirs to pay the "lost book fee" (I'm sure there is a maximum late fee clause somewhere) will be next to impossible and this was done only for publicity (if it came to it because of some weird public concern, the library would 'forgive' the fine... gaining more publi
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by treeves (963993)
          Actually I heard they don't want the fine to be paid, but they do want the books back. I imagine two library books kept past due date by Geo. Washington are worth a lot if they can be found.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by rockNme2349 (1414329)

            So..... Dear George, your library fees are now -$32768.00

            It turns out if you wait long enough you no longer owe money on them, but the library will pay you to bring them back!

            • by treeves (963993)

              It turns out if you wait long enough

              It turns out if the POTUS waits long enough

              It turns out if the first POTUS waits long enough

              FTFY.

              • by Dhalka226 (559740)
                You didn't even get the joke, did you? Just decided to use it as a launching off point for a stupid Slashdot meme?
          • by wvmarle (1070040)

            Of course - if only because those books, if they still exist, are now antiques.

        • by JWSmythe (446288)

              Actually, if you read the article (I know, Slashdot, good luck there), they'd like the books back. I'm sure they would. Beyond the normal antique value, there is a higher value because of the holder of the book. They'd probably both sell at auction for a fortune.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      And the library still demanded some ID before they would accept payment.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by JWSmythe (446288)

            Well, they'd probably accept a federally issued picture id. He could whip a dollar bill out and say "look, me." Then again, with decomposition, he probably doesn't look much like his pictures any more. That, and folks may get the heebie jeebies when a decomposing zombie comes walking in to pay a bill. :)

        • by AnotherUsername (966110) * on Monday April 19, 2010 @05:38PM (#31902552)
          "Shoot it!"

          "But's it's former President George Washington! That's practically treason!"

          "It wants our brains! Shoot it! It's coming through the door!"

          "But, but...President! Founding Father! George Washington!"

          "Zombie Apocalypse begins today if you don't shoot it!"

          "But this is the Father of our Country"

          "I don't care, give me the gun!"

          BOOM!

          "You...you shot George Washington...Who...Who are you?"

          "Ash Williams. You can thank me now."
  • case (Score:5, Funny)

    by CSHARP123 (904951) on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:17PM (#31898538)
    When he goes to renew his Library card next time, bring a case against him and collect lots of those Washingtons
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      looks like he really bucked the system lol

    • by RJFerret (1279530)

      In some places, he could be denied renewing his driving license based upon overdue books. ;-)

  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@ u b e r m00.net> on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:18PM (#31898550) Homepage Journal

    Where are the books now?

  • Looks like I have some competition.
  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by cosm (1072588) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .3msoceht.> on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:19PM (#31898582)
    Epoch fail.
  • Hey man (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    don't Bundy that book

  • by Toonol (1057698) on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:24PM (#31898676)
    Get Nick Cage on the case; those two books no doubt contain directions to the Illuminati's treasure stored in the hidden fortress of the Masons.
    • Mount Vernon, September 25, 1798. From: George Washington To: George Snyder

      I have heard much of the nefarious, and dangerous plan, and doctrines of the Illuminati, but never saw the Book until you were pleased to send it to me.9 The same causes which have prevented my acknowledging the receipt of your letter have prevented my reading the Book, hitherto; namely, the multiplicity of matters which pressed upon me before, and the debilitated state in which I was left after, a severe fever had been removed. And which allows me to add little more now, than thanks for your kind wishes and favourable sentiments, except to correct an error you have run into, of my Presiding over the English lodges in this Country. The fact is, I preside over none, nor have I been in one more than once or twice, within the last thirty years. I believe notwithstanding, that none of the Lodges in this Country are contaminated with the principles ascribed to the Society of the Illuminati.

      The book he is referring to is Proofs of a Conspiracy [amazon.com] by John Robison

      Mount Vernon, October 24, 1798. From: George Washington To: George Snyder

      It was not my intention to doubt that, the Doctrines of the Illuminati, and principles of Jacobinism had not spread in the United States. On the contrary, no one is more truly satisfied of this fact than I am.

      The idea that I meant to convey, was, that I did not believe that the Lodges of Free Masons in this Country had, as Societies, endeavoured to propagate the diabolical tenets of the first, or pernicious principles of the latter (if they are susceptible of seperation). That Individuals of them may have done it, or that the founder, or instrument employed to found, the Democratic Societies in the United States, may have had these objects; and actually had a seperation of the People from their Government in view, is too evident to be questioned.

      My occupations are such, that but little leisure is allowed me to read News Papers, or Books of any kind; the reading of letters, and preparing answers, absorb much of my time. With respect,

      Note: Although in the 2nd letter he says he is "satisfied," meaning he agrees that the Illuminati and their doctrines have made their way to the United States.

      Source: [loc.gov] Search for illuminati

    •   This is not necessarily flamebait.

        The Tea Party says NO TAXES; well, part of what taxes support are libraries...

        Oh, and as long as we're on that subject, I love this statement from the front page of the Tea Party's website:

        Tea Party Patriots, Inc. operates as a social welfare organization

        A What?

      SB

  • Sweet URL that goes nowhere bro! I tried copying it in here but /. gave me a lameness error "Filter error: That's an awful long string of letters there.".

    Do editors do ANYthing at this site anymore?

    Try here instead:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8627835.stm [bbc.co.uk]

  • by XPulga (1242) on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:34PM (#31898868) Homepage

    After "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" and "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter", I'm pretty sure Quirk Books must already be working on a tale that involves Mr. Bookman (from Seinfeld, season 3) travelling back in time, terminator-style, to charge late fees on George Washington. That modifies the course of history. Last scene on the book, Bookman is back to the 20th century and the country formerly known as USA is now part of Canada. In the place of the Statue of Liberty, a huge green statue of Celine Dion greets the New Yorkers.
    • by Tumbleweed (3706)

      I'm pretty sure Quirk Books must already be working on a tale that involves Mr. Bookman (from Seinfeld, season 3) travelling back in time, terminator-style, to charge late fees on George Washington.

      Sheesh, what a waste of a working time machine! Just go back a bit farther in time and get the books back before they're overdue. People were waiting for those books to return, you know.

  • That guy 'll track down the money...Why don't they tell us the amount?
  • by operagost (62405) on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:42PM (#31899030) Homepage Journal
    The library went to a lot of trouble to prove that their records from the 18th century are probably a bit inaccurate. It could have been as simple as a star-struck librarian forgetting to update the register.
    • by mbone (558574)

      The library went to a lot of trouble to prove that their records from the 18th century are probably a bit inaccurate.

      Got them in the press, didn't it ?

    • The library went to a lot of trouble to prove that their records from the 18th century are probably a bit inaccurate. It could have been as simple as a star-struck librarian forgetting to update the register.

      Maybe, but probably not. [boingboing.net] They found the rest of the set of books, minus the volumes that Washington borrowed. I suppose it could be a coincidence, but it would appear that Mr. Washington's estate owes the NYPL a great deal of money, and their book back.

    • by westlake (615356)

      The library went to a lot of trouble to prove that their records from the 18th century are probably a bit inaccurate.

      The New York Society Library was a private subscription library. Washington would have been charged a substantial annual assessment or membership fee.

  • an arrest warrant [go.com] was issued for noted military leader, statesman, father of the nation, and library scofflaw George Washington.

  • by aonyx (629229) on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:47PM (#31899128)
    I was related to Mary Coyle Chase (author of Harvey). After she died in 1981 I helped clear out some things from her house. We found a book which had been checked out of the Denver Public Library in 1929. It was really fun returning it. I asked how much the fine was. The person at the circulation desk called the head librarian, and after a good laugh, they said there wouldn't be a fine.
    • by Chas (5144) on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:59PM (#31899330) Homepage Journal

      I was related to Mary Coyle Chase

      Technically, you still are.

    • We found a book which had been checked out of the Denver Public Library in 1929. It was really fun returning it. I asked how much the fine was. The person at the circulation desk called the head librarian, and had a good laugh, a ferocious laugh, a cackle almost. Then the head librarian peered at me over her thick-rimmed glasses and grinned menacingly. She said, sternly, "Come with me." Then she lead me through the stacks, down a short stairway, and toward a dark, heavy door.

      To continue following the librar

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:47PM (#31899134)

    send bookman to get the book back!

  • by spookymonster (238226) on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:47PM (#31899136)

    I mean, think of how much revenue they must've lost!

  • He was often heard to ask total strangers whom he'd just met if he could borrow enough cash to purchase a hamburger and would promise to gladly pay them back on Tuesday.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:53PM (#31899218)

    Now we know why the US Federal Debt is so high. That fine is probably still being carried by the Office of the President.

  • is a fool's errand

    let it go wherever it wants, for free, and profit off the ancillary revenue streams of such an attitude

    the alternative approach assumes that you have more control than you can ever have, even theoretically

    even our founding fathers were media "pirates"

  • Weak Evidence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lee1 (219161) <lee@lee-phillips.oTEArg minus caffeine> on Monday April 19, 2010 @02:09PM (#31899422) Homepage
    The evidence that it was G. Washington is 'An aide simply scrawled "president" next to the title to show who had taken them out'. [bbc.co.uk] This seems pretty weak to me. How do we know this means the President of the U.S.? Maybe it was the president of the library, or someone else entirely. The entry was intended to make sense to the library staff, not random other people 200 years later.
  • Everyone knows that George Washington couldn't tell a lie.

    Good ol' Honest George.

  • Blame it on Tobias Lear http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobias_Lear_VTobiasLearV [wikipedia.org]Tobias Lear. He was Washingtons' personal secretary at the time. Are not the secretaries held accountable for managing the affairs of presidents?

    No, I didn't mean THAT kind of affair!! A President would never do that kind of thing would they?

  • We have an article on two books 220 years late, references to late fees, but no estimate on what George Washington would owe. Without that figure this is like a joke without the punchline.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Revolution [wikipedia.org]

    notice the dates. he probably forgot all kinds of due dates due to the speed things were proceeding in france. by his books' due date, everyone in the world was aware that what was happening was a revolution.

  • Sue his descendants for the late fees and pay off the national debt?

  • When it takes 220 years for a government institution to figure out that a book is overdue, does anyone really think it would be a good idea to let them run a health care system?

    I know its humorous because this is just a library book, but it serves as a striking example of how government bureaucracies can depart from the supposed intentions of their founders. Consider:

    1. How many other library patrons got to keep their books for so long overdue without adverse consequences? Clearly, the library believed
  • Compounded interest beyond teh value of the books.

    Hmm, why does this make me think of the music and video industry regarding piracy lawsuits on one hand and the policies of redbox and block busters on the other hand where they charge you maximum of the cost of the video?

    And yahoo shows and expired article....

    Oh how redundant...

What ever you want is going to cost a little more than it is worth. -- The Second Law Of Thermodynamics

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