Monday, April 19, 2010

Late Fees

Librarians in the oldest library of New York have discovered that two books were borrowed on the 5 of October 1789 and has since never been returned. This may not have been such a big news, if it was not for the claim that then President of the USA George Washington was the one who borrowed the books. The late fees, adjusted for inflation, would now be $300,000 for being about 220 years late.

As far as I can tell, you cannot be quite sure that George Washington was the one who borrowed the books, it says in the article that I have read: "George Washington did not even bother to sign his name in the borrower's ledger. An aide simply scrawled 'president' next to the title to show who had taken them out." The word "president" is used in many other contexts in English than for the head of state in a republic. What if there was another person, president of something else, who borrowed the books? Well, New York was the US capital at the time, and other prominent figures in the federal government did borrow books there, so it is not far fetched to guess that "president" means the President of the United States in this ledger. Regardless of whether it actually was Washington or not, it would be interesting to know what has become of the two books.

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