On October 5, 1789, George Washington visited the only library in the city at that time in New York. Washington, who had been elected President of the United States a few months earlier, took two books: the Law of Nations treatise and a collection of minutes of debates in the British House of Commons.
According to the rules of this library, organized by New Yorkers back in 1754, books were supposed to be returned no later than a month later. But the president never returned these books. It is interesting that the library workers themselves discovered the loss only after ... 221 years, when the registration cards were digitized.
The library charged a fine for the delay of books, and he, taking into account time and inflation, amounted to about 300 thousand dollars. At the same time, the management of the library announced that it was ready to give up this impressive amount, but the books, which in our time are of considerable historical value, must be returned. But where to look for them, after more than two centuries, no one knew.
The staff of the George Washington House Museum, located on a plantation owned by relatives of the former president, decided to find a way out of this awkward situation. If these particular books cannot be found, then similar ones can be returned.
In one of the online stores, they managed to find a book by the Swiss lawyer Emelich von Wattel "The Law of Nations". The book is from the same circulation as borrowed from the library by Washington. The rarity was purchased for $ 12, 000. The only thing left to do was to resolve the issue with a late payment penalty, because the amount of the fine was many times the cost of the book.
! On May 9, 2010, the ceremony of transferring the book from the George Washington House-Museum to the New York Public Library took place. During this ceremony, a spokesman for the library, Charles Berry, once again confirmed that George Washington and his representatives (in this case, the house and museum) are exempted from paying a huge fine.
But the fate of the collection of minutes of debates in the British House of Commons is not reported. Probably, this book turned out to be lost forever for the New York library.
Interestingly, George Washington himself was called a man who never deceived anyone. It is possible that he did not want to deceive the owners of the library: he simply spun into the carousel of state concerns and forgot about books.