My fact-checking assignment has been humbling — the deadline is today and I am not going to make it. I never miss deadlines, haven’t done so since I was a student, and it upsets me to break that good record.
I have a variety of excuses. For one thing, I could see at a glance that much of the stuff that needed checking was basic biographical and genealogical data which I know how to find online, so I set it aside for a couple of weeks — only to discover that since the last time I searched for this data, ancestry.com has bought it all up and hidden it from non-subscribers. Oh, and then there were things like “X and Y formed an alliance,” which should probably not be included as facts at all, let alone things we should find primary sources for. And then there were things I had to go to the library for, and there was this potential scary-road issue, so I put that off day after day for another couple of weeks… In fact, as is so often the case when we have more than one excuse, I just screwed up.
Well, today, I finally got to the library. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful drive. I got there early enough to stroll around and take a couple of pictures. There was a man in a long skirt sitting outside reading aloud “We create our own realities…” in a firm, loud voice to amuse those of us who waiting with him for the library to open. Inside, with the help of a nice young reference librarian, I was able to confirm the whole spitting-in-the-rotunda incident which has been taking up so much of my fact-checking time.
A former colleague from the university was there, and she overheard my query. “That sounds like your kind of question!” she laughed, which struck me as slightly unfair. I was not inquiring into the spitting incident for my own interest, after all. This is an assignment.
In any case, the nice young man was able to track down the details of the incident. It made the front page, back in April of 1895.
It seems that our governor, back in those days, had a bit of a feud going on with the Representative from a rural area. It all had to do with railroads. So the Representative, Jones, cast some aspersions on the governor. Spying was mentioned, and bribery. The governor spat in the Representative’s face. Jones spat back.
The governor, a hot-headed man, went for his pistol.
It was clear from the way the story was written that there was nothing newsworthy about the fact that governor was packing heat in the rotunda. I guess everybody did in those days. Jones tackled him, and more legislators joined in the affray. Jones was wrapped around the governor’s body, and the governor was shouting “Let me go!” while maneuvering his pistol out of his pocket. Jones was unwilling to let the governor free because, it would seem, he had unaccountably forgotten his own pistol. He was fine with letting the governor go if someone would provide him with a gun.
After a bit, the governor promised that he would not shoot Jones, Jones was prevailed upon to leave the room, and everything settled down.
The newspaper reported the whole thing with avidity a couple of days later, including a quote from the governor saying that he did not intend to say or do anything more about it. He went on to become a senator, so the contretemps seems not to have done him any political harm.
This was easily the most exciting part of the fact-checking assignment. There have been shootings in that rotunda while the legislature was in session, and sword duels among the legislators (outdoors), and a little battle over who should get to be governor, but as far as I know the spitting is unique.
Don’t tell me history is dull.
I have not had time to move on to any more knitting since finishing up Brooklyn, but I know I need to get back to my Christmas present knitting as quick as I can (Isis Rising reminds us that we have 78 days left, and that was a couple of days ago — one FO per week?). However, one of the ladies in my Sunday School class has a new grandbaby, so I am tempted to make the leaf hat which one of the Yarn Ho!s recently made (I cannot remember who it was… maybe I read too many blogs?). Pokey is bringing some friends down for the weekend, though, and I still haven’t confirmed that the governor’s father was actually an architect, so I may not get around to either. I also need to make a Hallowe’en costume for work, rescue my garden, and get some press releases done. Maybe I shouldn’t still be sitting here?