clicking through presidential history

My teachers condemned Wikipedia as they taught me the anatomy of research papers. Unreliable, they said. Not scholarly, they said. I respect that.

But I love Wikipedia. God, I love it.

This week, I love it because of the presidents of the United States. I’ve lost myself among the pages of George Washington, Andrew Jackson and William Henry Harrison (the man may have only been in office a month before croaking, but his page is an interesting read). I’m giddy with the ease it takes to peruse the line of succession — Washington, succeeded by John Adams, succeeded by Thomas Jefferson. It’s all linked under the portraits of their unsmiling, pale faces (I’ve only gotten to James K. Polk, No. 11, and I look forward to the wonders of photography). The trick, I suppose, is to resist the temptation of all those other links. I took a roundabout way getting back to John Tyler after immersing myself in his extensive family tree. Tyler had 15 kids, and two of his grandsons are still alive, 171 years after Tyler’s inaguration. Sheesh.

I’m not sure how long this obsession will last, but I vow to reach the end of the line. As for now, I must get back to 1845.


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