Ralph Doty has another column in the Budgeteer today. Its a book review about the little known President James Garfield.
When I moved to Minnesota in 1963 and started school I went to the officially named Garfield Junior High more commonly called North Mankato Junior High. That the official name was generally unused seems a bit unfair to the memory of its martyred namesake. Garfield, who was an intriguing Republican and a promising President, was assassinated a year into his first administration. According to Doty we get the useful phrase “ignorance is bliss” from the Garfield assassination. Its worth reading Doty’s review if only to learn how the phrase came about.
Sadly the DNT doesn’t include Doty’s review on its website. This is the book. It turns out Doty (or the book) wrongly attributes the origin of the quote the medical care of Garfield’s physician, Dr. Bliss, who infected the President to death. The line actually comes from a well known Thomas Gray poem. (It is followed, ironically I presume, by the line “Tis folly to be wise.”)
Two months after starting at a school memorializing one martyred President my favorite teacher, Mrs. Jones, left our English class mysteriously for about fifteen minutes. When she returned she solemnly informed us that our President, John F. Kennedy, had been shot.