Glenn Beck has now admitted that he misled audiences at his campaign appearances for Ted Cruz when he told them the copy of Don Quixote he held in his hand was the same copy that George Washington purchased on the day the Constitution was signed. Beck now admits that the copy he was displaying at Cruz rallies was actually printed in 1796 — 9 years after the Constitution was signed.
The controversy surrounding Beck’s book heated up earlier this week when a spokesperson at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate told the Huffington Post that the copy of Miguel de Cervantes Don Quixote that Washington purchased on the day the Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787, is “stored safely” in their collection and is not out on the campaign trail with Glenn Beck.
The curators even helpfully tweeted a photograph of the real copy Washington purchased on that historic day in 1787:
— Mount Vernon (@MountVernon) February 23, 2016
In the wake of the controversy, Beck has finally acknowledged that he misled audiences about his book:
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.
It’s still unclear how Beck, a self-described Constitutionalist who prides himself on his knowledge of that period, could have thought that a book printed 9 years after the day the Constitution was signed was the copy Washington purchased on that historic date. But he clearly made that assertion repeatedly while stumping for Cruz in Iowa, South Carolina, and Nevada.
At a Cruz rally in Ames, Iowa, on January 30, Beck said that Washington wrote in his diary “two lines on the day of the signing of the Constitution. First line: ‘Signed the Constitution today.’ Second line: ‘I pick up my copy of Don Quixote.’ This is his copy of Don Quixote that he picked up that day.”
At a rally at the Morningstar Church in Fort Mill, South Carolina, on February 11, Beck again declared, “This is the copy that he went and picked up the day they signed the Constitution.”
At a rally in Henderson, Nevada, on February 21, Beck again said, “This is George Washington’s copy of Don Quixote. This is the copy that he picked up the day they signed the Constitution.”
On his website, Beck posted the transcript of his Blaze TV appearance yesterday where he blasted the Huffington Post’s reporting on the book controversy as “the sloppiest journalism I have ever seen.”
“Now, I don’t think you care at all about rare book dealers,” Beck said. “But you know who does care? Me. And here’s why: Because people are now saying I’m dragging out a fake Washington book all around the country. And now they’re starting to question the Washington compass, which also has documentation.”
And, you know what, let me tell you something. I paid a fortune for these things. And these people who are printing these things are hurting the monetary value of those items. And they’re only trying to do it because it’s the same group of people that try to discredit any kind of history that is coming from a conservative. They have their own political motives for doing it.