While campaigning for Ted Cruz in South Carolina earlier this month, Glenn Beck made an emotional show of holding up a copy of the book “Don Quixote” that he said George Washington had picked up on the day that the Constitution was signed.
As Beck told it, Washington wrote but two lines in his diary on September 17, 1787: “Signed the Constitution today. I pick up my copy of Don Quixote.” The juxtaposition of these two events — one highly significant and the other seemingly mundane — Beck declared, revealed that Washington was at peace knowing that he had done everything he could for his country and that its future was now in the hands of God and the American people.
“This is the copy that he went and picked up the day they signed the Constitution,” Beck said, holding the book as he warned the audience that “if South Carolina makes Donald Trump a winner, we’re done” as a nation.
Trump, of course, did win in South Carolina and now Michael Calderon of the Huffington Post is reporting that Beck’s copy of “Don Quixote” is not actually the copy that Washington picked up on that day:
The museum at Mount Vernon, Washington’s Virginia home, says the copy of Don Quixote in question, which Washington purchased in Philadelphia on Sept. 17, 1787, is stored safely in its collection. A Mount Vernon spokeswoman told HuffPost that it’s in the rare books vault at the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, the presidential library in Washington’s home. Mount Vernon even displays images of the book on its website.
Beck addressed the issue on his television show last night, now claiming merely that he owns “one of two copies of George Washington’s ‘Don Quixote’.”
After blasting the Huffington Post for supposedly not contacting him before publishing its story, even though the article states that “Beck did not immediately respond to a request for comment,” Beck insisted that his copy of the book was, in fact, owned by Washington himself and that he has all of the documentation to prove it.
The copy owned by Beck, though, may not be the one that Washington picked up on the day he signed the Constitution, as he now seemingly admits and which obviously undermines the significance of the one in his possession.
“So, there were two copies,” he stated. “Which one did he buy on the day of the Constitution? I don’t know.”
UPDATE: Beck now admits that he copy he owns is not the copy that Washington picked up on the day he signed the Consitution:
In a statement to HuffPost, Beck acknowledged the book he’s displayed at rallies is not the copy of Don Quixote that Washington purchased on that day. However, Beck said he possesses another copy of the book, dated 1796, from Washington’s library.
“The lesson that I take from Washington’s diary where he says ‘Signed the constitution. Bought Don Quixote’ is that we are never done in our service to God and Country,” Beck said. “I have incorrectly stated that my copy is the copy that Washington purchased the day he signed the Constitution. That version is one of the copies owned and housed in Mount Vernon. I take full responsibility for connecting my book (which is dated 1796) to the book Washington purchased that fateful day of September 17th, 1787. But make no mistake the copy in my possession is from the private library of George Washington.”
Experts at Mount Vernon noted that the ownership of the 1796 volume is complicated, and that it’s uncertain whether that later edition, owned by Beck, was in Washington’s library or was purchased by Washington as a gift for his friend Colonel Tobias Lear. The 1796 copy of Don Quixote was later passed down to Lear’s son, Benjamin, who identified it in records as having been received from Washington.
A Mount Vernon spokeswoman said it would need to see Beck’s copy in person to authenticate it.