Sunday, January 13, 2008

Millard Fillmore and John Paul Jones

Last night, we went to a birthday party at our church in honor of Millard Fillmore, our largely forgettable 13th president (clearly, an unlucky position). Millard was never actually elected—he was Zachary Taylor’s VP, and assumed the presidency upon Taylor’s death, and then failed at two subsequent attempts to get elected. He is one of the “lesser” presidents: most people couldn’t pick him out of a lineup, his presidency is largely undistinguished, and historians have called him inept and uninspiring. Except in our case, he inspired a party. And in the dead of winter, when you need a good excuse for some fun, Millard’s birthday does quite nicely (his actual birthday is Jan. 7...same as my husband).

In another piece of historical trivia, did you know that the only home in America of John Paul Jones (Revolutionary War naval hero of "I have not yet begun to fight!" fame) is located right downtown on Caroline Street? Before achieving fame as an officer in the Continental Navy, he had a checkered past. His real name was John Paul, but he adopted the surname Jones and fled to Fredericksburg, where his brother lived, in an attempt to escape some nasty charges from his early days as a merchant shipmaster that he killed a sailor under his command.

After years as a lighting shop, the building, which is across the street from the train station, is now getting ready to open as the “Seafarer’s Coffee House” to serve the commuters. Hmm...while Portsmouth, New Hampshire, lays claim to the John Paul Jones House, a historic home that JPJ once rented a room in (damn those New Hampshirites!), we let our authentic John Paul Jones House get turned into a java joint. Where are the historic preservation people when you need them?

3 comments:

COD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
COD said...

This is what it used to look like
http://www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/2163815768/

jett said...

At least somebody didn't buy it up to pave it under for a Walmart or something. Coffee...the sea...sorta go together. Thanks for sharing the pic and I hope the Filmore party was more fun than his Presidency. :)