Handsome Carver is best known for his peanut butter, and though his reputation as history’s greatest peanut butter producer is well deserved, his contributions to the birth of our country have been forgotten over time. Because of this forgotten legacy, historians often refer to Handsome Carver as the Lost Founding Father.
Handsome Carver was well known as a vocal opponent to the British Peanut Butter Tax in the years leading up to the Revolution, but became a national hero in 1778 when he trekked across the Pennsylvania wilderness during winter to provide George Washington and his troops with much needed sustenance at Valley Forge.
After the war ended, Handsome Carver briefly considered running for election as the first American President, but when it became clear that he would run unopposed as no one was willing to challenge him, he decided it would be healthier for the young nation to hold elections rather than crown a king. He convinced his friend George Washington to run instead and our democracy was born.
Handsome Carver left a great impact on Ben Franklin as well. While the two friends were sitting down for breakfast one day, Handsome Carver noticed Ben Franklin repeatedly taking off his glasses to eat his peanut butter and putting them back on to see across the table. When Handsome Carver suggested the concept of bifocals, Franklin was overjoyed with the idea of how much faster he’d be able to eat his peanut butter. Recognizing Handsome Carver’s genius, Franklin would often shadow him, recording his many thoughts and sayings, which would later become the basis for Poor Richard’s Almanac. Consistent with his desire to remove himself from the limelight however, Handsome Carver suggested that Franklin remove all references to peanut butter so that the public would not suspect him of being the book’s author.
Handsome Carver’s legacy as a Founding Father was further concealed when the British burned the White House in 1814. Of all the portraits hanging in the White House, only Handsome Carver’s was destroyed. Historians suspect that it had become a tradition for new Presidents to coat the frame of Handsome Carver’s portrait with peanut butter, and it was this peanut butter that melted into the portrait with the heat of the flames, destroying it before it could be salvaged by Dolly Madison.
He declined to sit for a new portrait after calculating how much peanut butter he could have produced while sitting for his first portrait. The results horrified him, so he decided to paint his own self portrait instead.