Well, it’s the fourth of July. Independence Day! A day to appreciate our freedoms and reflect on our nation’s founding fathers. But, for a lot of millennials, that reflection can be difficult, because the founding fathers are more important and successful than we are. Confronting our own unjustly inflated egos is difficult, and the best way to mitigate the pain is by looking at where successful people were when they were our age.
It may be hard to imagine, but there was a time when the founding fathers weren’t founding anything – nor were they fathers! It was called their twenties, and they lived pretty similar bullshit lives to the ones you and I live today!
At 25, Benjamin Franklin was still trying to convince people that all that dumb shit he was doing with kites was science. When he showcased his glass armonica at the very first SXSW, critics called it “an alcoholic’s piano” and “the death of music.” It wasn’t until his late 30s that he started to gain notoriety for his Billy Joel impressions.
When he was 22, Thomas Jefferson sold his only prized possession, a 71 Camaro, in order to purchase a single slave for his father’s failing plantation. He risked it all, and at the time, it didn’t look like it was going to pay off. Eventually though, the plantation was a success, and years later, then president Jefferson launched a nationwide search, spearheaded by Lewis and Clark, to find the Camaro. Anyone who owned slaves was also given free pizza that day.
Known for his big ass signature, a much younger Jon Hancock was eager to make his mark on the world and felt completely unfulfilled. At 24, he was working as a caricature artist at a pelt bazaar, where he was fired for depicting customers in too negative of a light. He then went underground, lived off what he could steal, and invented graffiti. The “wildstyle” method of tagging is derived from Hancock’s work in his twenties.
Coming from a long line of Puritans that believed America to be the biblical promised land, Adams had a lot of emotional baggage to shed as he entered adulthood. After dismissing his father’s dreams of him becoming a minister, Adams spent some time in a commune and opened a food truck that served broiled finch wrapped in pig scrotum (the predecessor to modern day bacon). While successful, Adams became disillusioned with the food truck life and entered law school at 28.
A native New Yorker, a 26 year old Jay lived a life very similar to modern twenty something manhattanites. Spending his day working at a law firm, Jay would go out at night and, according to his autobiography, I Do Hopeth They Serve Pussy In Hell, “literally smash as many pussies as I could get my hands on and dick in.” After a syphilis scare (then incurable) Jay decided it was time to wrap it up or bag it up, and as condoms at the time were uncomfortable, bulky, ill-fitting amalgams of chainmaille and wharf rat sinew, he decided to quit pussy forever.
Madison had created over 100 zines before the Federalist Papers gained him the massive following that launched him into the national spotlight. At 25, he invested everything he had (a bunch of slaves) into his policy zine Chuffed Lad! After failing to secure enough subscribers to foot the bill, he had to drop the project. He didn’t write again for ten years, and spent the interim amassing hundreds of slaves.
Everyone knows the story about George Washington chopping down the cherry tree, but little is known about the first president until years later. At 23, he was in a noise band and addicted to laudanum and fermented nightshade from the Orient. After losing his teeth and watching his girlfriend die of an overdose, Washington decided to clean up his act. It was until he was 32 that he managed to scrounge up enough slave money to start the revolution.