Wednesday, May 22, 2013

George Washington and the Outhouse

Ethan Allen was a patriot and Revolutionary hero who often concluded his letters and writings with the phrase “most obedient and humble servant.” In the spring of 1775, Allen organized and executed a plan that resulted in the capture of Fort Ticonderoga, the British’s main base in the region. On September 24, 1775, during an attack on Montreal, Allen was captured by the British. As a prisoner of war, Allen was detained in several prison ships with extremely harsh living conditions. After two years and eight months of being inflicted with cruel and malicious punishments, he was released as the result of a prisoner exchange. After his release, Allen was granted “the rank of colonel by brevet in the army of the United States of America, in reward of his fortitude, firmness and zeal in the cause of his country, manifested during the course of his long and cruel captivity, as well as on former occasions.” (Journals of the American Congress from 1774-1788, Volume III (Washington, DC: Way and Gideon, 1823), 66.)

Following the end of the Revolutionary War and the signing of the Treaty of Paris, “Allen ‘had occasion to visit England,’ where he was subjected to considerable teasing banter. The British would make ‘fun of the Americans and General Washington in particular and one day they got a picture of General Washington’ and displayed it prominently in the outhouse so Mr. Allen could not miss it. When he made no mention of it, they finally asked him if he had seen the Washington picture. Mr. Allen said, ‘He thought that it was a very appropriate [place] for an Englishman to keep it [since] there is nothing that will make an Englishman [crap] so quick as the sight of General Washington.’” (Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2005), 151.)

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