Thursday, July 5, 2007

Characteristic Conversational Contributions and 4th of July Facts

On the 4th, Robert and I went to a party at his aunt L and uncle T's house in west Austin which was attended by Robert's cousin A and her cousin K (on the other side of the family so no relation to Robert), both from NYC, as well as three friends of Robert's aunt from the neighborhood. Robert, A, and I were fairly quiet during a period of the general conversation dominated by the two neighbor women and K. But Robert did make two comments that almost made me laugh in their stereotypical, factual contribution nature:

(1) A's cousin K remarked that she used to swim 8000 yards a day for the high school swimming team, which she said was about a mile a day she guessed. Robert observed, "8000 yards? That would be over 3 miles." (Google confirms that it is 4.54 miles.)

(2) After discussion of a biography of John Adams, Cousin A stated that she knew three things about him - that he was President of the US, that his son was also President of the US, and that he attended college at her alma mater. K said that he also died on the same day as Thomas Jefferson, so Robert said, "July 4, 1826" and when queried, reported TJ's last words, "Jefferson survives," which was actually untrue, TJ having died a few hours earlier than Adams without Adams' knowledge. Which when you think about it, is a totally implausible situation - that two ex-presidents of the United States, who had been political enemies, would die within hours of each other on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, which TJ wrote and of which Adams was a signer and "fierce advocate."

Apparently, and I did not know this history: "Jefferson ran for president in 1796, lost to John Adams, and, most uncomfortably, this made him vice president under a man whom he could no longer abide. After a single meeting, on the street, the two never communicated directly during the whole administration. Jefferson again ran for the presidency in 1801 and this time he won. He served for two terms and he did ultimately play a deciding role in forming the character of the American Presidency. The 12th amendment to the Constitution changed the manner in which the vice president was selected, so as to prevent arch enemies from occupying the first and second positions of the executive."

So in addition to contemplating the happy state of our independence from Britian, this is a good time to take a moment and be thankful for the 12th amendment, which spared us the horrors of a Bush-Kerry presidency. At least this way we only got stuck with one of the two crappy candidates.


mom said...

The story of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson dying on the 4th of July sounded familiar. I'm sure we were told about this when we went to Boston and made a side trip to the Adams house. What's amazing about Robert is that he remembers this stuff. Has he considered auditioning for "Who Wants to be a Millionaire"?

Tam said...

I don't know, Sally - I think being spared Cheney's second term might have made it worth having both Bush and Kerry in office.