"As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of the opportunity provided to serve self-interest when Al Gore created the internet; and we should also thank Mark Zuckerburg and Jack Dorsey for creating Facebook and Twitter out of the kindness of their big hearts and not the thinness of their small wallets."
-Ben Franklin, Autobiography (1742)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Merry Constitution Day!


Today, September 17th, is National Constitution Day, the holiday where we celebrate the signing of the US Constitution in 1787, as well recognize those people who have become US citizens.

We assume that most of our readers already know most everything about this auspicious holiday, but just in case here are a few interesting facts about Constitution Day, courtesy of your neighborhood historians, the Lost and Founders:

Fact: Constitution Day was established in 1787 as the second act of the Constitutional Convention (the first obviously being the signing of the document itself).

Fact: Due to a printing error in the Farmer's Almanac in which notice of the new holiday was spread across the young country, many states began celebrating "Constitutional Day" for several years. This involved making sure one had at least one bowel movement in the morning, and eating foods high in fiber. Communication between states in these early decades was so poor that the error was actually not corrected until 1791 (4 years later) when government officials began campaigning for office during the month of September and were shocked to discover how their constituency had been celebrating the signing of our document of law. In 1792, the holiday was renamed to "Citizenship Day" and a focus was placed on newly recognized citizens in order to remove some of the constitutional stench stigma.

Fact: The town of Lousville, Ohio, began celebrating Constitution Day as a separate holiday from Citizenship day in 1952 and has since referred to itself as Constitution Town. The town was unaware that there was already a holiday celebrating the same thing that was using a different name because of some confusion and shit.

Fact: Citizenship Day was renamed back to Constitution Day (also merging in the local Constitution Day celebrated in Ohio) in 2004 in order to mandate that all public schools focus their educational efforts on the Constitution and its impact for at least one day each year.

Fact: The proper celebratory greeting for this holiday is "Merry Constitution Day!" or "Constitoot toot a lootion to you!" *

For anyone living in the DC area - the Lost and Founders will be doing our annual Constitution Day bake-sale today in the foyer of the National Archives building. Come take a look at the document that laid the groundwork for our nation, and take a delicious bite out of a Constitution Cookie while you're at it! Proceeds to go the Lost and Founders Historical Research Foundation.

Merry Constitution Day everyone!

*Editor's note: It's really not hard to see how this was misconstrued.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Tree of Liberty and Lance Armstrong

Thomas Jefferson, unsurprisingly, commented on the Lance Armstrong blood doping controversy 225 years ago.

On November 13th, 1787 he wrote a letter to William Smith saying:

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the doped blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it's natural manure."

Jefferson was obviously talking about Armstrong's battle with the USADA. It seems as though Armstrong's blood has already been spilled time and time again as they have asked for numerous samples. The resolution seems quite simple. It's time for the tyrants to spill blood as well, USADA owes a piece of flesh.

For our tree of liberty to be strong and healthy we need the blood of both, the manure is week and can't be made stronger without the blood of the USADA. Keep fighting Lance! Jefferson believes in you.


Monday, July 23, 2012

My Strange Addiction: Thomas Jefferson

It’s no secret that Thomas Jefferson lived in a crippling amount of debt.  He owed over $107,000, about $2,000,000 by today’s standards, at the time of his death in 1826 and throughout his life he took many different approaches to handling that debt. In 1815 he sold his library, a collection of some 6,700 books, to the US Government for $25,000. This deal alleviated some of his financial burden, but more importantly, these books became the Library of Congress, and they continue to be the nucleus of that library today.

Now the day after these books are boarded up and sent away, Jefferson writes in a letter to John Adams “I cannot live without books”. For just about two centuries Americans have lauded these words, we use them to illustrate the importance of reading, learning, and education. What most Americans don’t know, is that in a separate letter to John Adams, sent years later, Jefferson writes:

 “I cannot live, without scented hair powder”.

You laugh, but he actually writes this. I’m not kidding. There’s no way we at Lost and Founders could have made this up.  Now some will look at this and assume that Thomas Jefferson was overly fond of Hyperbole, that perhaps this exaggeration was just a part of what made him such a good writer, but we at Lost and Founders, committed as we are to “Following the truth wherever it may lead” (TJ said that too), have uncovered the truth. Jefferson literally could not live without his scented hair powder. The man who penned the Declaration, was an addict.

We’re all familiar with TLC’s hit television show “MyStrange Addiction” in which we witness the compelling stories of individuals battling unusual obsessive behaviors (like drinking urine, and eating your deceased husbands ashes, you know common things like that). Had the show been around in the early 19th Century, Thomas Jefferson would undoubtedly have been the star.

There’s no way to know exactly when or where the addiction began, but leading historians do believe that Jefferson would have first been exposed to scented hair powder in 1760 when he begins his time at the College of William & Mary, an institution notorious for the abuse of this substance. 

While in the company of his mentor George Wythe and Royal Governor Fauquier (both wig wearing men) Jefferson might have been peer pressured into dabbling with scented hair powder. During the Revolution, and afterwards, while Jefferson is in Paris serving as Minister to France, there was no shortage of hair powder and Jefferson would have found it easy to keep up his habit. Problems begin when his times in Paris end.

Jefferson’s close contemporaries grow concerned about their friend’s abuse. In 1800, shortly after Jefferson secures the presidency, John Adams decides to host an intervention at Monticello. When Jefferson walks into his parlor to find Adams, George Washington, and Alexander Hamilton preparing to address his problem, he is so enraged that he has Dolley Madison forcibly remove them from his premise. This event marks the schism between the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans, Jefferson and Adams wouldn’t speak again for twelve years. 

In this period scented hair powder begins to ravage his fortunes, leaving him in a suffocating amount of debt that eventually forces the family to auction off their entire estate.  The deterioration extends to his body. This portrait depicts a Jefferson clearly suffering from hair product abuse, I mean, just look at his wig.
On July 4th, 1826, 50 years to the day he signed the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson’s habit finally catches up with him. At the young age of 83, he dies an untimely death from what most historians believe to be an overdose. Also, old age.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Jurassic Park and the Berlin Wall

If you love Jurassic Park it is time that you know the truth. Jurassic Park was not a book written by Michael Crichton. It is the story of one of our more recent Presidents. Ronald Reagan is famous for his imperative ‘Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall.’ Until now the world has been unaware of the covert operation led by President Reagan to complete this task. Until now no documented evidence had been available. Recently we were able to uncover a sketch of Reagan’s original ‘trickle-down’. We’re not talking about economics folks. We’re talking about an all-out Velociraptor rampage. 

Reagan led the charge himself to begin tearing down the wall. The Germans finished it, but wouldn’t you with a huge ass raptor breathing down your neck?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Project Glass and Benjamin Franklin

Our technophile readers will likely recognize the name "Project Glass" as an exciting new concept technology currently being developed by Google. It was recently given a large spotlight at the company's annual I/O event last week.


Project Glass is essentially a new way of viewing and interacting with the web, via a device worn on a person's head in much the same way as a pair of glasses. In some of Google's current prototypes, the device can actually be attached to an existing pair of glasses, basically allowing users to access new information as if were hovering right in front of their eyes.

It's pretty fascinating stuff and if successful stands to potentially affect the course of human history and how we interact with the world around us. Naturally, we at the Lost and Founders take as much interest in the future as we do in the past, and are very excited about the possibilities this new technology holds. However, we do have one gripe with Google and Project Glass, and that is that technically they stole the idea from one Benjamin Franklin.

It is a well-documented fact that the revolutionary Ben Franklin was a prolific inventor. His countless experiments set numerous scientific standards in his time and many of his inventions laid the groundwork for technology we still use today. Google's "Project Glass" so happens to be one of those inventions: a lesser-known design based on Franklin's original bifocals that he once dubbed with the working title of "The Franklin Floaters" (admittedly not his best name).

Franklin's Floaters were a set of bifocal glasses to which were connected thin brass wires that ended in tiny clamps. In Franklin's design one could attach a document to the clamps and read completely hands-free. Granted, there were several flaws in this original design that ultimately kept it from becoming popular - namely that affixing anything heavier than a few sheets of paper would cause the wearer terrible neck pains after just a few hours of use. No less a concern was the fact that it proved difficult to walk down the street with the wearer's view completely obstructed (Editor's Note: This latter issue was eventually remedied by Thomas Edison years later when he attached a small lamp to the Floaters that could pass light through special paper and render it transparent. Although the Floater's still did not catch on, this 2nd generation design was the original head lamp used by miner's).

Despite its flaws, Franklin's Floaters were a revolutionary concept well ahead of their time. Gone were the days of being forced to hold a document while reading, which according to Franklin's early journals proved a huge time saver that directly resulted in the creation of several of his more lasting innovations.

So 5 years from now when everyone is walking around video conferencing each other with their eyes and reading this blog as it floats magically in front of them, all we ask is that you take a moment to consider that there is usually quite a bit of lost history behind all of our modern day miracles. And about 83% of the time that history is in fact Benjamin Franklin.

                                  National Treasure (2004) movie props Ocular Device replica spectacles prop

Happy Early Independence Day America!

- The Lost and Founders

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Hottest Bromance of the Revolution

In 1820 Thomas Jefferson wrote “ I am sure that I really know many, many, things, and none more surely than that I love you with all my heart”. 

You might imagine that such an endearing and affectionate line was something that Jefferson would have traced out for his wife Martha. You could also potentially imagine a situation in which Jefferson stealthily scrawls this line onto a napkin before furtively passing it over to Sally Hemmings. The truth of the matter is that Martha had recently passed away a mere forty years before and so the writing of such a letter to her would get Jefferson zero brownie points. Equally futile would be writing said letter to Sally, a house slave who had never been taught to read. The identity of the recipient is one that might shock, horrify, and dismay our loyal base of readers, particularly the large portion of you that are members of the Westboro Baptist Church.

The letter, was written to John Adams.

Now, as difficult as it is for us at Lost&Founders to dispel the heteronormative interpretation of the American Founding that our great nation of mavericks has so long held near and dear to its heart, we have the solemn duty to “follow truth wherever it may lead”. We present to you the evidence, free of bias, and ask you to form your own opinions. The last thing we need is the entire state of North Carolina simultaneously partaking in HareKiri the time-honored tradition of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment.

Our story begins in 1775. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams meet while serving as delegates to the Continental Congress that gathers in Philadelphia… the City of Brotherly Love… coincidence? Nope. Now mainstream historians have tried to tell us for centuries that Jefferson and Adams struggled with the distance that serving the Revolution was putting between them and their respective wives, but a recently discovered portrait done in 1776 by Gilbert Stuart suggests otherwise:

With this irrefutable evidence brought to light, it becomes both necessary and proper to reevaluate past conceptions. Today, we do believe that Philadelphia offered Jefferson and Adams an escape from their unhappy and sexually frustrating home lives.

The next chapter in the saga can be aptly called Jefferson in Paris. After Martha passes away in 1782, Jefferson is finally able to partake in the pursuit of happiness. He follows Adams to Europe where he takes on the title of American Minister to France but the trip ends up being little more than a five-year Paris shopping spree. It’s at this point that we believe Abigail Adams gets wind of what’s going on, takes John away with her to England, and forces an end to the relationship. Adams would write “The greatest regret I have in departing is an Interruption of that intimate Correspondence with you, which is one of the most agreeable Events in my Life”.

Jefferson and Adams wouldn’t talk for decades. Historians have attributed this to political partisanship and bitter campaigning but that’s just not the case. Abby, the main bitch in charge, was jealous of Jeffy, and it wasn’t until she softened with old age that Jefferson and Adams are able to rekindle their friendship in what many historians have referred to as the most touching correspondence to grace the pages of American History.

On July 4th, 1826, fifty years to the day that both men signed the Declaration of Independence, John Adams passes away. His last words are “Thomas Jefferson still lives”, you see, the two had an ongoing bet about which one of them would be the first to go, and John Adams was wrong. Jefferson had passed away a mere three hours before! There was no Facebook, there was no telephone, there was no expedited pony express to let one know about the other’s fate. But if you ask us, it was true love. Jefferson passed, and Adams pined away.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Thomas Jefferson supports Theresa Sullivan

The Lost and Founders team would like to take a moment to weigh in on a current issue at the University of Virginia regarding the recent ousting of President Theresa Sullivan due to "philosophical differences" between her leadership style and that of key members of the Board of Visitors. As UVa alumni, we echo the sentiments of the many students, faculty, and fellow alums that are outraged and feel that Sullivan was treated unfairly by the BOV.

Our loyal readers know that we take great pride in looking back to the words of our Founding Fathers for key advice on navigating the issues of the present day. We would like to point out that Thomas Jefferson himself, former President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia, once made a statement in a letter to friend and colleague James Madison that may in fact be quite applicable in this current debate:

"In times of great levity don't let the dragass hand occupy the rectum for too long. It causes great irritant and will eventually need to be removed. Simon says."

While the un-liberal arts trained eye may see this quote as quite straightforward in referring to the bowel movements of our favorite founder, upon closer inspection we find that it's far less "shitty" and rather quite clairvoyant. Indeed, the above statement, long thought to be a quote about more crude things - was actually Jefferson predicting the future of his beloved University of Virginia.

Rectum is the Greek foundation of the modern word rector. It was widely used to reference political figures in ancient Greece and later carried over to Latin where it provided a basis for the modern day English translation. In Greek as well as Latin, Rectum is a 2nd declension noun and the plural genitive case is Rectorum.

The political usage originally came about after the Trial and Death of Socrates, after which Plato became quite anti-establishment. He began to joke that Archon's should no longer be referred to as the Head of the Council and rather they should referred to as the "Butt of the Council." He thus dubbed the group of them as the Rectorum or Rector (singular). This became hip in the underground rave culture so to speak in Athens and was instantly popularized. It lost its negative connotation in the Middle Ages when the Catholic church picked it up after misunderstanding a Platonian document that was in truth more of a rant about Socrates death. Since then the word Rector has been venerated by all...except Jefferson, who as a Latin scholar spent a great deal of personal time researching the dead language. When he founded the University of Virginia, he decided to call the head of the Board of Visitors the Rector as a joke between himself and presidential cronies James Monroe and James Madison that whoever was leading was destined to be the butt of all jokes and should not be taken completely seriously.

Now to "dragass." If you simply capitalize the 'D' and throw in an apostrophe it becomes "Dragas's hand." As Helen Dragas is the current Rect[um]or and the principle player in the dismissal of Sullivan, it can be argued this term was in fact part of a very poignant statement by Mr. Jefferson, whom as we have evidenced in countless posts had an astonishing amount of foresight bordering on the mystical. If you are asking for a more clear sign that Jefferson most certainly would have taken a side in the the recent dispute between Dragas and Sullivan, we don't know that one can be provided.

Finally, if you read closely you may notice one more bit of strangeness in the "Simon says" addendum to the quote above. This was in fact (fun sidenote) the beginning of the game Simon says. It has also always been thought to be an inside joke among friends, and it wasn't until now that we realized just how impressive the magnitude of Jefferson's clairvoyance is. We believe that this was actually a nod centuries in advance to one John Simon, the current UVa Provost, who seems to be aligned with Jefferson himself in supporting the academic integrity upon which the University of Virginia is founded.

There you have it. The Founder hath spoken. If you are a student, alumnus, or faculty member of UVa, or even just a friend to the University, please speak up and let the BOV know how you feel.

- The Lost and Founders