Boozy brilliance

I loved this fun Daily Beast piece on the stupendous alcohol intake of the United States’ founding fathers: a handy reminder that even the greatest of men have their weaknesses. Check out the brilliantly unequivocal George Washington quote at the end in particular.

So pervasive was drunkenness in 1787—and the lives of our Framers of the Constitution—that Benjamin Franklin compiled a list of 228 synonyms for it, which is more than an Inuit has for snow. He’s Fishey. Groadable. Nimtopsical. He’s contending with Pharaoh. And my favorite: He’s Been at Barbadoes, which must have been a hell of a tavern.

Franklin might have been describing James Madison, father of the Constitution, who drank a pint of whiskey every day. Or Constitutional delegate John Adams, who began each of his days with a whole draft of hard cider—“imbibing with the birds,” they called it. Or he could have been referring to the entire Continental Army. George Washington gave four ounces of the hard stuff to the soldiers he commanded along with their daily ration, insisting that “the benefits arising from moderate use of strong Liquor have been experienced in all Armies, and are not to be disputed.” In the decades after the Founding, liquor flowed so freely it became cheaper than tea.

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