Introducing Washington

Richard Brookhiser has spent four years trying to capture for the television screen the character of perhaps the greatest American.

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Mason Weems, Bibliopolist

To mark the birthdays of our two great Presidents, a new look at the legends that surround their memory …
An admiring re-appraisal of the Cherry Tree Fable and its author, by Garry Wills , together with the
Curious Story of Abraham Lincoln’s Lost Love Letters, by Don E. Fehrenbacher

 

Benjamin Franklin wrote what could be called America s first self-improvement manual. But Franklin trod the world stage, and his autobiography is a classic expression of Enlightenment ideals, too grand a thing to count Dale Carnegie’s books among its offspring. The true father of Carnegie, or of Norman Vincent Peale, was Mason Weems (1759–1825), the itinerant preacher and bibliopolist—he had the salesman’s trick of dignifying his trade with fancy names. Read more »

Myth On The Map

Scores of towns and counties all over the nation honor some heroics largely invented by Parson Weems

Wherever there’s a Newton, there’s a Jasper.”

When my father said that to me three years ago, he inaugurated a search that reveals what I believe to be a heretofore unrelated bit of American history. Casually spoken, his remark had been casually received. Soon afterward, however, my husband and I attended a fox hunt in Jasper County, Texas, and discovered that Newton County was next to it and that the towns of Jasper and Newton were their county seats. Coining home, we drove through Jasper, Arkansas, which proved to be the seat of Newton County, and from then on it seemed that no matter where we went Newton and Jasper were on the way. Sometimes they were associated as counties, sometimes as county and county seat; often a town or county of Marion was nearby. Maps showed more than sixty Newtons and Jaspers in all, half of them juxtaposed in an almost conjugal relationship. They were about as much a part of the American scene as Lincoln Avenue, Washington Street, and Courthouse Square. But why?