Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

Revisiting Hot Men of History

I’m spending the week gallivanting around town for spring break, so I’m revisiting one of my favorite posts. Enjoy!

-oOo-

I am a dork for history, and one of the side effects of this affliction is my tragic tendency to crush on men from the past. This is, I suppose, the epitome of unrequited love, second only to that other disorder, falling in love with fictional characters (a blog post in and of itself).

However, I’m not alone in this.  My high school American History teacher, for example, used to talk at length about her undying love for former U.S. presidents John Adams and Teddy Roosevelt, and over the years, my friends have confided their own hidden attraction to prominent historical figures, both famous and infamous. The internet has helped to reinforce my silly crushes, especially blogs like My Daguerrotype Boyfriend and Hotties From History.

For fun, I offer a selection of my Top 4 Hot Men of History:

"Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804) in the Uniform of the New York Artillery" by Alonzo Chappel (1828-1887)

Number 4 on my list is Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), also known as the gentleman whose face graces the United States’ ten dollar bill.  He was a smarty pants, co-authoring the Federalist Papers with such luminaries as John Jay (the first chief justice of the Supreme Court) and James Madison (the 4th president of the U.S.). The Federalist Papers were a series of essays defending the American constitution, published during the Revolutionary War, and continue to be cited by constitutional lawyers and judges today.

Hamilton was also the country’s first Secretary of the Treasury. As part of his job, he helped to construct the Bank of the United States, the first central bank in the country’s history. He also helped to establish the national mint, which created a single currency for the whole country (as opposed to the hodgepodge of over 50 currencies being used in the latter part of the 1700s). I still haven’t quite forgiven Aaron Burr for killing Hamilton in a duel.

Yes, I hold grudges against historical figures. Don’t judge me.

Steel engraving by Samuel Hollyer from a lost daguerreotype by Gabriel Harrison. Used as frontispiece in 1855 (1st) edition of Leaves of Grass.

Perhaps American Revolutionary-era politicos are not your type.  Poets, perhaps? Walt Whitman (1819-1892), number 3 on my list, is one of my favorite poets, though I cannot claim to love the giant beard that he sprouted later in life (actually, now that I look at it, he sort of reminds me of Gandalf the Grey, which makes him infinitely cooler than just “crazy old man with a beard”).

Whitman’s poetry, however, outweighs the grizzled beard. From the stirring lament of “O Captain! my Captain” to his praise for humanity and the body in “I Sing the Body Electric,” Whitman wrote in the voice of the common man, and was deeply steeped in the political and cultural concerns of the late 19th century.  My favorite poem of his is “A Woman Waits for Me,” where the speaker expresses his love for all women. I love the fifth stanza:

They are not one jot less than I am,
They are tann’d in the face by shining suns and blowing winds,
Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and strength,
They know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle, shoot, run, strike, retreat, advance, resist, defend themselves,
They are ultimate in their own right—they are calm, clear, well-possess’d of themselves

That’s right, Whitman. Women are kick-ass and full of awesome.

According to Wikipedia, Whitman was also a regular correspondent with author Bram Stoker, and served as the model for Stoker’s Dracula.  His vagrant lifestyle also influenced the Beat poets of the 1950s and 1960s, including Allan Ginsburg, who references Whitman in the opening of On the Road. Whitman also worked as a federal clerk in Washington, D.C., writing over 3000 documents during his career.

While we are on the topic of poets, I have to admit that I could never refuse Lord Byron (1788-1824), even though by all accounts, most women probably should have. Lady Caroline Lamb, one of his many conquests, famously described him as “Mad, bad, and dangerous to know.” He is recognized today as one of the first modern celebrities, a man who attained rockstar status during his own time for his excesses, love affairs, and scandals.

Still, I am a sucker for Byronic heroes. Who is better than the man who lends his name to the famed anti-heroes?  Sure, he was a philandering womanizer, but this is one of the pros of loving men who have passed on — their days of heartbreaking are over.  Such a reputation places him second on my list.

In addition to penning some beautiful poetry, Byron was also a celebrated war hero, fighting for the Greeks in their War of Independence, and acting as a leader of Italian revolutionaries during the early part of the 19th century.  A lover and a fighter? Byron definitely earns points for versatility.

Frontispiece: Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom. (1855)

At the top of my list, however, is Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), former slave and one of the foremost figures in the American abolitionist movement. I told a friend of mine not too long ago that to me, Frederick Douglass is the ultimate measure of a man. I also added that any potential partner of mine will have to stack up to Douglass’s qualities and talents.  I was only partly joking (this is why I will probably be single for the rest of my life).

Douglass was, in a word, awe-inspiring. He escaped from slavery with the help of Anna Murray-Douglass, a free black woman who later became his wife. Later, he became an anti-slavery lecturer, traveling through the northern United States, Britain, and Ireland to discuss his experiences. He was both a powerful orator and writer. See his speech, “What to a slave is the 4th of July?“, for an example. In my opinion, it one of the best beautiful examples of American rhetoric.

In addition to championing the abolitionist movement, Douglass was also a proponent for women’s suffrage.  He was the only African-American invited to the Seneca Falls convention, one of the first women’s rights conventions in the United States. His support of women’s rights would continue till his death, and his second wife, Helen Pitts-Douglass, was an active feminist.

Honorable Mentions

Robert Frost (1874-1963) is another of my favorite poets, and looked rather charming when he was younger, at least according to this portrait from 1910.

Credit: Library of Congress

Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) has the misfortune to be remembered as a president whose two terms in office (1869-1877) were marred by scandal, corruption, and economic turmoil, but he during the Civil War he built a reputation for himself as an excellent general and military tactician.  He also wore a cowboy hat quite well, in my humble opinion, and had that rough, grizzled, rakish sort of look that I love.

General Ulysses S. Grant at his headquarters in Cold Harbor, Virginia, 1864

Anyone else ready to join my support group for people with crushes on the hot men and women of history? Which historical figures make your heart go pitter-patter? 

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16 Comments

  1. Oh…I remember this post. :} Ulysses…<3
    Nadja Notariani recently posted..Success – Can It Become Your Downfall?My Profile

  2. LOVE! How did I miss this post the first time around??
    Myndi Shafer recently posted..GUEST POST: Kylie BollwittMy Profile

  3. This really was a great post! I never really paid attention in history for whatever reason…and I regret it. Now I feel like I’ve had my history lesson of the day. 🙂
    Tiffany A White recently posted..Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Messin’ with Momma is a Bad IdeaMy Profile

  4. Thanks for providing a safe place for me to talk about my unbelievable crush on Alexander Hamilton. You see, years ago I realized that if you change up the hairstyle and the clothing to a more modern look, Hamilton looks a lot like my husband!!! Seriously, their builds, lips, face shapes, and noses are so similar. After I had this AHA moment, I suddenly found myself ogling my ten-dollar bills and feeling amorous for my hubby at the sight of currency. It’s a little disturbing, I know. But I always thought Hamiltion was an interesting historical figure, and now I think the dude is hot. Loved this post!!!
    Julie Glover recently posted..The Cat’s Out of the Bag: IdiomsMy Profile

  5. I love Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” although I wouldn’t say I have a crush on him. I just admire his work.

    I’m not saying he’s a crush either, but I’d love to be able to meet Walt Disney. His creative mind amazes me. He’d be a crush, not for his looks, but for his overactive imagination.

    Really fun post, Lena. Sounds like you had a creative spring break.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  6. Love this post! Hope you are having a great spring break gallivant!

  7. Wow. I never thought that there is really this die hard fan of men from the past. Byron was good looking though. Thanks for sharing your interests- very nice interests. 🙂
    Olive recently posted..kings island couponsMy Profile

  8. Fun post, Lena! I have the same issue. Luv your choices. Some of mine go way back. Like Shulgi, a superstar king of Sumer around 2300 BCE. And the Gallic warrior Vercingetorix. Sigh.
    Alicia Street recently posted..Popping The QuestionMy Profile

  9. My first read of this post but it’s a gem. Walt Whitman and Alexander Hamilton are favorites of mine as well. Fine read, indeed.

    Karen
    KM Huber recently posted..Stirring the PotMy Profile

  10. Karen McFarland

    March 30, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Lena, thanks for re-posting this. I love history and the facts surrounding these people. I try to think about what it must have been like to live during the time period that they lived in. And how their words still have so much meaning even today. Very cool post so worth reading girl. It’s a keeper! 🙂

  11. Ha ha, that is awesome! Now I want to think about who my picks would be. That might take me some time. I don’t know if I can look beyond the girlie fashions of some parts of history, like those powdered wigs. I think I’d probably crush on guys in the time they wore suits of armor. They would be hot and manly, and I could pretend they didn’t smell bad. You’re really got me thinking!
    Emma Burcart recently posted..Sometimes We Just Need a BreakMy Profile

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