Given the recent revelations regarding Donald Trump and his “lewd/private/locker talk/obscenities” (depending on how you choose to view it), I decided to write a blog regarding some commentaries from our Founding Fathers about women and sex. I do so, however, with the caveat that I am not attempting to cause anybody to change their opinion about this current news story. Anybody out there who has viewed this year’s presidential election can understand my decision to forego current times and to live, instead, amongst the ghosts of our past. This election is one, therefore, in which I truly have no horse in the race. I view it as a car crash, and do not particularly care who it is that climbs out of the rubble. After all, there is a justice to elections, because I can say this much – we will wind up with the man or woman we deserve.
“I know this much,” I have heard several women say, “my husband doesn’t talk that way in locker rooms.” The comment is usually followed either by an eye-roll, or a direct contradiction: “Of course he does!”
Men are, of course, not all alike. Some of these women are certainly correct when they boast about their husband’s propriety, and others are living in a fool’s paradise.
At Bow Tie Tours, we offer a tour entitled “Sex and the First City,” which is a tour that discusses the private, romantic, marital and sexual lives of the Founders. While this is a small part of our over-all oeuvre, it has brought forth news stories from a variety of sources, including the Philadelphia Inquirer and The Metro. Just the mention that I offer a tour about the private lives of the Founders gets people interested – “Really?” they ask, and then come the questions – Did Washington really have a child with his slave? Did Franklin really have 1,432 illegitimate children? Was Hamilton really intimate with his wife’s sister? Do tell!!!!!!
It is more than just a prurient interest that we seek to satisfy. After all, we want to know what these people are really like, and what better way to know this? Beyond that, we want to know if men and women were the same in the past as they are now. Or, as Dolly Parton put it in the classic (not really) epic Rhinestone, “Why are men such horny toads?”
There were no hot mics back in the days of the Founders, but there was something that was perhaps even better – the hot diary page! Now, Gouverneur Morris is a man who we should all have heard of, since he had more to do with the writing of the U.S. Constitution then any other single individual. Yes, according to James Madison, it is Morris who was the true “Father of the Constitution.” So why have we not heard about him? The answer, most probably, is that he was, as Parton put it, a horny toad, and he made no attempts to hide the fact. He was, moreover, a horny toad who did not keep himself to the unmarried women of Philadelphia, but shared his prodigious talents with many wives of Philly. This despite his wooden leg which, it would seem, merely increased his desirability. For any of you who have seen Red Shoes Diaries, Morris’ journals have a familiar ring: “Immediately I take Madam on my Lap at the imminent Risque of Discovery by two Doors and one Window perform the Act I think of all others Monsr. would be least pleased to behold…The husband is below. Visitors are hourly expected. The Doors are all open.”
While George Washington’s words were far less raunchy, he was amused by the prospect of his forty year old friend marrying a younger woman, and openly discussed whether or not he could truly keep his end up. Washington wrote that he was “glad to hear that my old acquaintance Colo. Ward is yet under the influence of vigorous passions.” Washington further hoped that he had “reviewed his strength, his arms, and ammunition before he got involved in n action. But if these have been neglected…let me advise him to make the first onset upon his fair del Tobosa with vigor that the impression may be deep, if it cannot be lasting or frequently renewed.”
When Thomas Jefferson first met Betsey Walker, the wife of a neighbor and friend of his who had left town to fight the Indians, he slipped a letter up her sleeve trying to convince her of the innocence of promiscuous love…kind of his first Declaration of Independence.
With Benjamin Franklin, no hot mic was needed. He was happy to print commentary that in this day would certainly get him in deep water. Witticisms such as “She that paints her face thinks only of her tail” would probably not be appreciated by today’s audiences, but that is nothing when compared with his reasons for choosing an older mistress rather than a younger one. All animals, he writes, grow old from top to bottom. So even if a woman’s face has succumbed to the ravages of time, “the lower parts” are as good as ever. “So…covering all above with a basket and regarding only what is below the girdle, it is impossible of two women to know an old from a young one.”
It’s probably a good thing Franklin never ran for president.