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George Washington Owes Library $300,000

Posted on Apr 18, 2010
Flickr / guldfisken (CC-BY)

The first president has accrued 220 years’ worth of late fees on two books he checked out from—and never returned to—a New York library. Washington borrowed “Law of Nations” and a collection of debate transcripts from the British Parliament. He is not expected to repay the debt.


On 5 October 1789, the first president borrowed two books from what was then the only library in Manhattan - “Law of Nations,” a dissertation on international relations, and a volume of debate transcripts from Britain’s House of Commons.

George Washington did not even bother to sign his name in the borrower’s ledger. An aide simply scrawled “president” next to the title to show who had taken them out.

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By Mekhong Kurt, April 28, 2010 at 11:24 am Link to this comment

Don’t let some zealous, eager young lawyer in the city prosecutor’s office know—s/he’ll try to sue the Washington estate!!!

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By NYCartist, April 20, 2010 at 10:45 am Link to this comment

If Bloomberg has his way, we’ll be back to one library branch in Manhattan, with very few books and hours.

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By PatrickHenry, April 19, 2010 at 5:17 pm Link to this comment

This is the same math which tells me I owe the government my share of all the money it spends on its empire.

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By amunaor, April 19, 2010 at 5:03 pm Link to this comment

When you’ve got the meter running on the people, you’ve got the best game in town!

Peace, Best Wishes and Hope

WikiLeaks—Collateral Murder:

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By R. G. Sowers, April 19, 2010 at 3:15 pm Link to this comment
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When I worked at a library, the largest fine we could charge was the price of the book plus a re-processing fee.

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By undrgrndgirl, April 19, 2010 at 12:12 pm Link to this comment
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nah…library fines generally only accrue to the cost of replacing the books…someone have a gander around the mt. vernon book shelves and maybe they’ll turn up!

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By Chris Carrier, April 19, 2010 at 10:46 am Link to this comment
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No one is above the law, but I think we owe it to GW to let it go!

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