George Washington Owes NYC Library $300K for Overdue Books

Both books were due Nov. 2, 1789

Saturday, Apr 17, 2010  |  Updated 2:30 PM EDT
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George Washington Owes NYC Library $300K for Late Books

Library thief!

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Was George Washington a scofflaw?

The city's oldest library says one of its ledgers shows that the president has racked up 220 years worth of late fees on two books he borrowed, but never returned.

One of the books was the "Law of Nations,'' which deals with international relations. The other was a volume of debates from Britain's House of Commons.

Both books were due on Nov. 2, 1789.

New York Society Library head librarian Mark Bartlett said the institution isn't actively seeking payment of the fines, but would love to get the books back.

Nearly 150 years went by before the nation's first president got busted for not returning the books. In 1934, someone found an old, worn-out ledger in a garbage pile in the basement of the library, according to the Daily News.

The ledger also lists books being taken out by other founding fathers, including Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and John Jay.

The entry on Washington doesn't identify him by name, but lists the borrower simply as, "president.''

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