Mint Juleps with Teddy Roosevelt, The Compete History of Presidential Drinking, by Mark Will-Weber, is a well researched and documented history book, the likes of which we’ve yet had revealed. Enlightening, frightening, and really captivating, this book will never be pried out of my stiffly clutched arms. I think I’ll take it with me for fun and giggles in the great beyond, for sheer entertainment, when I meet this cast of characters on my advisory board.
Only in America? Not really, it’s the way of the world… Kill or be killed has been business as usual since the dawn of time. I’m a peacenic, so this doesn’t sit well with me. I sometimes feel like I got assigned to the wrong dimension. Some of you may understand what I’m talking about. I was reminded of this when I specifically read about former president Andrew Jackson (1767-1845). His checkered past for having a passion for duels – and killing others – didn’t dismiss him from his becoming our seventh president, for instance. Henry Clay of Kentucky stated: “I cannot believe that the killing of 2500 Englishmen at New Orleans qualifies a person for various, difficult, and complicated duties of the Chief Magistracy.” [p. 55] Yeah, well, Jackson was just as good at one-on-one slayings, as in the case of Charles Dickinson, a skilled marksman. There was an insult that was worth killing someone over… Either one was willing to take the other down. They dueled and Jackson won, Dickinson died in excruciating pain. That was in 1806, and by 1829 Jackson was elected President, serving two terms. His drinking habits? He, like George Washington, owned a whiskey making still at his homestead and at his Hunter’s Hill Farm. Seems like whiskey and muskets made great bedfellows, huh?
Imagine someone today having this kind of narcissistic personality actually becoming a president, if found guilty for the senseless and ruthless killing of others to satisfy a bruised ego?
Here’s the publisher’s take on this book:
From Regnery Publishing:
As America transformed from fledgling nation to world power, one element remained constant: alcohol. The eighteenth century saw the Father of His Country distilling whiskey in his backyard. The nineteenth century witnessed the lavish expenses on wine by the Sage of Monticello, Honest Abe’s inclination toward temperance, and the slurred speech of the first president to be impeached. Fast forward to the twentieth century and acquaint yourself with Woodrow Wilson’s namesake whisky, FDR’s affinity for rum swizzles, and Ike’s bathtub gin. What concoctions can be found in the White House today? Visit the first lady’s beehives to find out!
Hardcover • 2014 • $27.99
Regnery Publishing, Inc. • ISBN 978-1621572107
Here’s my, a wine writer and wine publicist’s, take on this book:
I know what the “house wine” is in the White House these days, but I can’t disclose it; but, I can tell you that it’s a very wise choice. — Just couldn’t help but sharing this one, as it’s been a secret of mine for quite a while.
ANOTHER SIDEBAR: This is from a Washington insider to me, who’s also a wine expert, “When the Democrats are in power, the wine flows; when the GOP is in power, it slows…” (Perhaps that’s because the GOP prefers hard liquor to wine?)
WHAT I’VE LEARNED
History can be fun…
Mark Will-Weber’s book is delightful and insightful, to our own history of the enjoyment of alcohol as a diversion to daily tasks… how we relax, or not… I, of course, was very interested in what the politics of Prohibition were like. From the early Suffragette Movement to have the right to vote and when it also became a movement for getting their abusive husbands out of back bars and back into the bedrooms as mates without hate, to its being repealed…
Beginning during Buchanan’s time, we all know that Prohibition failed in many ways; but, in my own humble opinion, it did get a generation of men, who were out of control with their behavior of barhopping as being an exclusive activity for only men and naughty women, into bars become a social venue for all men and women who chose to par-tay.
According to Mark and his quoted sources on Buchanan:
“In [Prohibition] I think, they will entirely fail,” he wrote in an 1867 letter. “lager beer, especially among the Germans, and old rye will be too strong for them. Still, intemperance is a great curse to our people, but it swill never be put down by laws prohibition the sale of all intoxicating liquors…”
The Subject of intemperance must have been a curious one for Buchanan to ponder, since the “Sage of Wheatland” himself had such a knack for knocking back alcohol. [p. 121-122]
Prohibition was enacted in 1920 and continued for 13 years, ending in 1933 under the terms of the Eighteenth Amendment. It was enacted during Woodrow Wilson’s second term (1913 to 1921), and ended during Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s term in office (1933 to 1945). From Buchanan’s time until Wilson’s term, every president had to deal with Prohibition as a hot bed, until its Repeal in 1933.
I’m not going to give you all of the details here, because I’m not writing a report on it (at this time). I do, however, have a great resource for the day when I do want to write that perspective, most especially inspired from the information shared by Mark Will-Weber.
This is an excellent resource, written in an amusing and entertaining way… A very easy read and even easier recommendation. Mark explains who in the White House abstained, who imbibed, and who over-indulged during Prohibition. Secrets revealed…