George Washington against puppies

I trust you had a good Presidents' Day. Between the bickering in the LJ marxism community, on the one hand, my reading of the first book of the Fionavar Tapestry series and playing Sins of a Solar Empire on the other, my day averaged out to be good, if poorly used.

At any rate, it's Presidents' Day. If we're going to talk about anyone's day, we should talk of the days of those whose lives were ruined by Presidents. And since Presidents' Day is in fact only the informal name of what's actually Washington's Birthday, let's limit our inquiry into the evil, wicked ways of only our first President. And, to focus even further, let's pass over the terrible things he did that are, unfortunately, the standard practice of American presidents. Washington was an illegal land accumulator, a fearsome landlord, an Indian butcher, and pretty much an iron-fisted American aristocrat, eager to put the rabble down whenever necessary. Specifics aside, the tenor of his character and his crimes should probably come as a surprise only to those whose knowledge of American history was gleaned only from a middle school textbook.

Those things -- killing Indians, exploiting Farmers, etc. -- are bad, but among presidents they're hardly unusual. No, probably the most shocking of Washington's misdeeds is that he routinely killed puppies:

It was a common belief at the time, based on the appearance of puppies of different coloration and size, that a litter could have more than one sire. While that can happen, it is a rare event; most of the variation arose because dogs were not being consistently bred to close relatives to create a uniform appearance, as they wold come to be just a few decades later. Washington achieved relative uniformity by drowning puppies that did not match his conception of what his hounds should look like. -- Mark Derr, A Dog's History of America, page 77.

Grim, though at least it rational. It wasn't done for fun or malice, but to improve his kennel.

It was this same thoroughgoing efficiency that ordered him to have adult dogs killed as well:

Washington took a draconian approach toward unwanted dogs. ... Washington complained about the constant loss of sheep and other livestock to marauding dogs. He then told Whiting to kill any dog that killed sheep on his plantation and to kill strays that had no apparent purpose or owner. He further declared that, based on his observations of the control slaves exercised dogs ... they must raise and keep dogs only to steal livestock. He closed with a "a positive order, that after saying what dog, or dogs shall remain, if any negro presumes under any pretense whatsoever, to preserve, or bring one into the family, that he shall be severely punished, and the dog hanged." -- Ibid., pages 84-85.

Anyway, I realize that killing and enslaving people is probably worse than killing dogs. I just thought it was an interesting aspect of the man that I don't think people would have considered.

There's a simple way to solve this problem of puppy-killing presidents. Simpler than drowning-proof puppy suits. It's called socialism and it's the end of politics.