Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Presidential Largesse: A Few Examples.....


   In recent days it was learned that Donald Trump is accepting his Presidential salary only,  so as to be able to cast the lucre towards things that might need the money and that fit his and the general public's fancy.   He chose, I believe the National Park System.   His various family members who are labouring on behalf of the nation are actually working pro bono within the White House administrative structure.   Their projects seem laudable enough, even if Ivanka thinks that Equal Pay for Women is anything more than a very heavy bell with no clapper.

     There was a bit of a dust up over the issue, and a very interesting fellow...man about town...very adept at various businesses, pursuits, and interests, commented that Trump was the only President to give away his salary.   This fellow is a member of one of the Spanish colonial families in the Hidalgo Country area, and....like I say....a very interesting and positive personality...well-known and widely respected.   I consider him a favoured close acquaintance.
     Without a minute to waste there were commentators, your almost-humble servant included.  It was a flag thrown on the football field, with no penalty, however.  Those of us who are pompous and stuffy like to show that, in spite of a general lack of any justification for using natural resources, at least I can still pontificate and bluster.  I wrote:

          Hector's point is in almost all cases correct. The points about John F. Kennedy and Hebert Hoover are correct....as well.   It is also of interest that John F. Kennedy did not have any reservations about dispatching his brother Robert to the Halls of the Department of Justice, as Secretary of said portfolio.  It was probably a good appointment anyway. 

   It is little known, but Jefferson Davis was another American President who eschewed his Constitutionally prescribed salary.....25,000 dollars / annum for his six year term, and accepted only the Grey House....a modest mansion in Richmond, Virginia which served almost exclusively as a home for the Davis family.
   Also, Davis and his brother Joseph left the entirety of their sizable, back-to-back plantations in Mississippi in the hands of General Manager, Ben Montgomery, who happened to be a slave. He kept perfect records, had good labour relations with both free and slave, and oversaw the activity of numerous white employees.  
    On top of that, Davis was the only President until the last one to have children of Black African Ancestry.   How did this come about?    His wife and several ladies were horrified one day to see a Negro, who was also a slave owner whipping a frail young black boy with a cane in full public view, and without relent in downtown Richmond. The ladies, black and white, came over to the scene and began arguing with the Negro man. He declared that the boy was a slave of his, and that he owned various slaves, and required their submission and adherence to his orders.
    Mrs. Davis sought legal relief for the boy, Jim Limber, and was told by a judge that Virginia did not have adoption, but she could file for him as ward (essentially adoption at that time), and a suit could be filed for admonishment and quitting of the man's ownership of the the boy. She did so, with the ladies bearing witness in court, and the judge awarded the boy to the Davis family.
  While there, he was "table'd with the Davis Children", and the oldest Davis boy and Jim became quite bonded. Union troops, during the evacuation of the family from Richmond towards Montgomery, Alabama at the end of the War, made it their highest priority to find Jim Limber.  The Union military finally found him outside of Montgomery.
    From there he was probably taken and sent to British islands off Florida or in the eastern Caribbean. His name and presence were generally erased from history although much has been studied and published about the boy.
   It should be noted also that George Washington supposedly used almost all of his salary for eleemosynary activities especially concerning adapting the "coloured freemen" to the general society. Washington was assumed to be the richest man in America at the time, although most of his wealth was based upon the estate and wealth of Martha Custis, his wife.

     The stories will all fade.  Ten thousand years from now almost nothing will be known of those days or these.   But somehow, it seems to me, ornery so-and-so's will be arguing about Davis, Lee, Lincoln, and Grant & Co.  and the whole stupid War.   The smoke will never clear, and I am just as guilty as anyone for perpetuating its ghosts.

El Gringo Viejo