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Horatio Alger: Pedophile?

September 28, 2006

Officials in Marlborough, MA, home of the annual Horatio Alger street fair, are considering dropping Alger’s name from the festival because of allegations of pedophilia.

By way of review, Alger authored numerous – around 100 I believe – rags-to-riches books in the late 1800s. These books generally center on a young man who, by thrift and hard work, achieves monetary success in America. Apparently Alger served as a Unitarian minister before embarking on his literary career. In the 1860s, however, he was forced to resign after assaulting two boys.

Scholars have long known about the incident, but a few Marlborough town officials only recently learned of Alger’s impropriety. The head of the town’s Chamber of Commerce knew of the incident several years ago, but did not see it as a problem because the allegations were not proved in court.

Moreover, according to an AP story: “The Postal Service issued a stamp in 1982 to mark the 150th anniversary of Alger’s birth. At the time, the post office noted that Alger’s 1872 novel “Phil the Fiddler” helped expose forced labor involving boys and led to the formation of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.”

Interesting. If we knew all of the details of everyone we celebrate, I’m certain there would be a lot less celebrating. We love to remember only what we want to remember. – TL

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