Wonders, did the news strike people in the Ol...


November 19, 1992

HOW, ONE wonders, did the news strike people in the Ol Country? Learning that Bill Clinton had won the presidency, did you make merrie, England?

The name Clinton goes back, over there, at least to Geoffrey de Clinton, about 1130 -- not long after Bill the Conqueror.

By now, the Dictionary of National Biography lists 11 Clintons, though none from the 20th century. They have been Lord of the Bed Chamber and Lord High Admiral and Knight of the Garter; they have been in the Coldstream and Grenadier Guards. One Clinton got an M.A. from Cambridge, not Oxford.

The Dictionary of American Biography lists five Clintons, again none recent. The ones you should know about are DeWitt, George and Henry. In the Revolutionary War, George was our side's governor of New York; Sir Henry, their side's commander-in-chief, headquartered in New York City.

At one point, Henry Clinton captured Fort Clinton. Whatever the outcome, Clinton was a cinch to carry New York.

During Jefferson and Madison, George was vice president. His nephew DeWitt (governor in his turn) was the prime mover in building the Erie Canal, a fearful blow to the Port of Baltimore. We retaliated by building the Baltimore & Ohio R.R.

If George and then DeWitt had each had his way, Bill would now be the third, not the first, President Clinton.

Back to the sceptered realm: the fellow to get in touch with for current doings would be Gerard N.M.F.T. Clinton, the 22d baron so far. If he's not on the floor of the House of Lords, try Boodle's. Or he may have gone off to the family seat, which is in Devon near Okehampton, for a spot of "fishing, shooting, forestry."

Forestry, indeed. In America, even the backwoods produce splendid presidential timber.

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