S2 E18: Body, Soul & Memory: What would you do with a lock of George Washington's hair?

Constant Wonder - Season 2, Episode 18

  • Jun 8, 2022 6:00 am
  • 34:32 mins

An old friend of Benjamin Franklin always regretted not having asked the founding father if he could taxidermize his body. He thought Franklin might have agreed, and then maybe George Washington might have also followed suit. But (maybe to our collective relief) what we do have, instead, as a tangible reminder of our first president are several collections of cuttings from his hair. In the days before photography, a lock of hair might be the only proof that a person had access to a notable man like Washington. After his death, some pseudoscientists used Washington's hair to "prove" the biological superiority of America's founders. Others used their clippings to prove that they, too, were there at America's founding. Now, in our digital age, are these kinds of physical relics and mementos still important? Guest: Keith Beutler, author of "George Washington's Hair: How Early Americans Remembered the Founders" and professor of history at Missouri Baptist University