By. C. Michael Forsyth
The birther controversy flared back to life with a vengeance yesterday when a historian revealed that seven U.S. presidents besides Barack Obama were born overseas!
John Tyler, Martin Van Buren, James Garfield, Millard Fillmore, James Polk, Teddy Roosevelt and, most astonishingly, George Washington himself, were all born in other countries, according to Edward P. Jurkens, author of the upcoming book Not of Our Soil: the Hidden Story of American’s Foreign Born Presidents.“Most of these presidents hailed from England or Scotland, and fudged their records to seem more ‘all American’ and to qualify legally for the Oval Office,” says Jurkens, who spent 15 years combing through baptismal certificates, passenger manifests and other documents to reach his stunning conclusion.
“Martin Van Buren, whose real name was Maarten van Buren, was actually born in the Netherlands and could speak only Dutch until he was six.
“James Garfield was born Joanes Gliszinski near Lodz, Poland and immigrated to America with his family at age 2. He changed his name as a young man, just as the writer Joseph Conrad changed his from Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski.”
Washington, known as The Father of our Country, was born in Sulgrave, England in 1732, and was a robust lad of 10 when he immigrated to the Americas with his father Augustine and Mary Ball Washington, according to the expert.
“In a rare 1760 letter we acquired at auction, Washington recounts with much fondness his idyllic boyhood in ‘Merry old England,’ as he put it,” the historian says.
“Only when anti-British sentiment arose in the colonies did he revise his biography to change his birthplace to Virginia. In this ‘new and improved’ personal history Washington told to fellow patriots, his family had been in America since the 1600s and he was born right on the family’s estate in Westmoreland County.”
Ironically, the famous “I cannot tell a lie” story about Washington’s boyhood proves that the founding father fibbed about his birthplace.
“The breed of cherry tree that little George Washington admitted chopping down was native to England, and was not brought to the New World until 1820 — two decades after Washington’s death in 1799,” Jurkens reveals.
According to the official biography distributed by his campaign aides, our eighth president Martin Van Buren was born in Kinderhook, New York on December 5, 1782.
“But research shows that his parents Abraham and Maria Hoes Van Buren lived in the Dutch city of Buren until 1786,” says Jurkens.
“Martin spent his formative years in what is now the Netherlands, and many of his early childhood drawings feature beautiful pictures of windmills.
“As an immigrant youngster in America, he wore traditional wooden shoes to school. That, his thick Dutch accent and his diminutive stature made him the frequent target of bullying.”
John Tyler blatantly lied about his background when he ran for president, claiming to have been born on the family plantation in Greenway, Virginia, in 1790. But the passenger manifest of a ship named the Emma Louise shows that his parents emigrated from their home in Surrey, England, in September 1794, when Tyler was four.
“Tyler’s mother Mary Marot Armistead Tyler was closely related to the Cushings of Surrey, making the president kin to the late British actor Peter Cushing,” reveals the expert. “The resemblence between the two Englishmen is quite striking.”
Our 11th president James Polk was born in Inverness, Scotland in 1795, according to baptismal documents. When he ran for president, he released phony documents stating that he’d been born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.
“Polk was very proud of his Scottish origins and was fond of wearing kilts around the White House,” Jurkens says. “Many official photos had to be cropped before they were released to the public.
“He also insisted on greeting foreign dignitaries with bagpipes, playing one of the instruments personally. This would send aides into a tizzy as they feared his secret would get out.”
When our 13th president Millard Fillmore ran for office, he not only lied about his country of origin, he also shaved a few years off his age for good measure.
“He claimed to have been born in 1800, in Cayuga County, New York,” the expert says. “But according to the original birth certificate, his mother Phoebe Millard Fillmore gave birth to him on October 12, 1797, in Huddersfield, England.
“Like many politicians of that era, he claimed that he was born in a log cabin and grew up under harsh pioneer conditions. The truth was he was born in a very comfortable bed and breakfast named the Grey Swallow Inn.”
James Garfield also claimed to have born in a log cabin, in Ohio in 1831. But the expert has identified him as Joanes Gliszinski, a first-generation Polish immigrant who came to America at age 8.
“At that time Poles were regarded as subhuman and jokes about how ‘dumb’ they are were prevalent,” says Jurkens. “It’s easy to understand why, when he entered the workforce as a teacher, he changed his name and lied about his background, claiming Welsh ancestry.”
Rumors about Garfield’s Polish roots dogged him throughout his political career, giving rise to ugly poltical cartoons, including one that featured a grotesque caricature of him as an ape-like Pole carrying off Lady Liberty in one arm and wielding a giant sausage in the other.
On July 2, 1881, the president was shot and fatally wounded by assassin Charles J. Guiteau, a disgruntled federal office-seeker with a deep-seated hatred of Poles. These “filthy foreigners” were using secret connections to get plum jobs people like him deserved, according to a letter he’d penned to a newspaper.
Notes the researcher, “As Guiteau was being arrested, he told the police, ‘I hope the dirty polack burns in @#!*% . I am a Stalwart of the Stalwarts!’ The Stalwarts were an anti-immigrant group that especially targeted Poles.”
Teddy Roosevelt’s parents Theodore and Martha were wealthy owners of glass-importing business, prominent philanthropists and frequent travelers to London.
“They considered themselves a ‘transatlantic couple,’ equally at home in England and the U.S.,” explains Jurkens. “Teddy was born on October 27, 1858 in a London townhouse they owned. But because the family had political aspirations for their son, the records were later quietly changed to indicate the birth took place in a brownstone at 28 East 20th street in New York City.”
In his youth, Roosevelt often returned to his mother country with his parents and continued to have an affinity for all things English throughout his life.
He was fond of English sayings, modifying them slightly for use in his speeches. Most famously, “Walk softly and carry a big stick” is borrowed from an old English proverb, “Walk softly and carry a big rock.”
The Birther movement suffered a setback in April when President Obama released his long-form birth certificate confirming that he was born in Hawaii, not Kenya, and is therefore a natural-born citizen of the U.S. as the Constitution requires. Diehard Birthers have clung on, arguing that the documents were forged. And Jurkens’ revelations have breathed new life into the movement.
“The jury is still out on Mr. Obama,” says prominent Birther leader Clint Hosky. “But the case against these other presidents is air-tight. It means that hundreds of laws signed by these men are illegal. Entire territories purchased under their watches may have to be returned to their rightful owners. Millard Fillmore bought New Mexico and California from Mexico for $15 million. If that sale is null and void, we’ll have to buy the territories all over again at today’s prices — if the Mexican government is willing to sell.”
Copyright C. Michael Forsyth
ALSO FROM THE WRITER OF THIS ARTICLE:
To check out Hour of the Beast, visit Amazon.com, or buy the book for $4 less by clicking HERE.
ON THE HOUR OF THE BEAST FRONT…
On October 13, I attended New York Comic Con as a vendor, hawking my campus horror novel Hour of the Beast. Got to meet scores of the nation’s premiere comic-book artists and graphic novel writers. Biggest treat was that my best friend from 7th grade, Jordan Auslander, put me up, so I didn’t have to spring for a hotel. Jordan was the class clown back in middle school, and while he’s now a respected geneologist, he’s as wild and crazy as ever. Best of all, Jordy brought along a posse of equally extroverted pals who helped man the booth.