Imagine if Ben Franklin could have DM'd you some salacious twitpics back when he was busy convincing the French to support us. Would an outrageous backlash have prevented America from securing an international ally that solidified our new nation's position on the map?
After reading Larry Flynt and David Eisenbach's One Nation Under Sex, I'm pretty convinced the Cassanova of our Founding Fathers would definitely have had some racy social media exchanges if the technology were available to him. Although, he was apparently quite good at stirring up trouble with the technology he had, specifically creating the country's first gossip column under a pseudonym writing for the paper he owned. (Howie Kurtz: What about that?!)
On today's edition of my podcast, Wilshire & Washington, Eisenbach, also a Columbia history professor, stopped by and schooled us on a number of much more interesting American sex scandals of much greater significance.
Was Alexander Hamilton the David Letterman of his day? How did Dolly Madison leverage her buxom frame for bipartisanship? Why was Warren G. Harding's first call upon winning the Republican presidential nomination to party bosses who created a slush fund to cover up his affairs? Was J. Edgar Hoover more powerful because he blackmailed presidents and congressional leaders for four decades with sexy secrets? Listen to the show here to find out.
It's clear that sex and politics have been snuggling for centuries. Rather than feigning outrage, more people should get educated about the true nature of sexual power in our country's history. One Nation Under Sex is a great starting point, providing an honest look at what's gone down and painting robust portraits of the often narcissistic, ambitious patriots who felt both compelled to run for office and to spread their seed.
Headlines will always be provocative, but perhaps as more Americans grow up "exposed" on social networks, our collective obligatory Puritanical response to them will have gone the way of the printing press.