George Washington owes $100K in library fines

According to an old ledger book, George Washington (the George Washington) checked two books (one on international law, one a transcript of debates in the British House of Commons) from the New York Society Library in October, 1789 and never returned them.

His inflation-adjusted fines are now more than $100,000.

John Adams also failed to return one of the books he checked out.

According to its website, the New York Society Library was formed in 1754, and served as the first Library of Congress when New York was the capital. The ledger from that time period was lost for many years, but was rediscovered in the 1930s. It shows that many "founding fathers" besides Washington used the Library at that time, including Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and Aaron Burr. According to the ledger, they all got their books back on time, but not the Father-in-Chief.

"We're not actively pursuing the overdue fines," said head librarian Mark Bartlett, "but we would be very happy if we were able to get the books back." Fat chance, given that Washington died in 1799 and so his family has almost certainly grabbed all the good stuff by now. And for those of you hoping that this might be a case of mistaken paperwork rather than a book-swiping chief executive, further evidence came to light just last week that the two books are actually gone. A librarian apparently stumbled upon the set of "Commons Debates" volumes, which it seems had been misplaced, and all 14 volumes were there — except for Volume 12, the one Washington checked out.

President Accused of Theft, Failing to Pay Massive Library Fines