[He pauses dramatically, seemingly outraged.]


Hell, I will! Everyone walks away happier and richer with their interests and honor at least nominally intact. That balance is a tricky one: interests will get you robbery, but honor will get you war. So, we Confederates compromised until we couldn’t anymore. Why couldn’t we? Because our interest had matured and our honor could now afford to fight.


So, yes, I will praise the ambiguous virtues of Compromise — that is, until it's time for me to win.


Winning, now, that's another matter. It involves choosing a side. Invariably, that side has a little song and dance, perhaps a flag or a pin, and — if that side is worth its salt — it damn well better have a cocktail!


[He drains the rest of his.]


Now that we’ve had a drink, it is incumbent upon me to introduce myself: Lansford Warren Hastings, Esquire.


Some men are born great, some men achieve greatness, and some men are born in Ohio. I would like to claim all of the above, but can most reliably claim the third. The other two have a bit of a causality issue — call it the ol’ chicken and the egg to make it simple for you pie-oh-neers.


As I mentioned earlier, it’s so easy to get it backwards! Egg…Chicken…Just you try to keep track!


Now, for this most likely of stories, which starts in the least likely of places: mine begins in Ohio. I was the sixth of seven children, as there was not much to do in Ohio. Still isn't.


This brings me to perhaps the seminal fact of my story: I went West.


The Hastingses had been coming West for some time. My stock comes from the earliest settlers who intermarried with Mayflower descendents. They pushed from the Bay Colony to Springfield, Massachusetts, from Springfield to the Hudson River Valley, and from the Hudson River Valley across the Alleghenies, and back to Springfield again — Springfield, Ohio.


We did not follow the frontier: we made the frontier, we were the frontier, and I was born a refugee from it. In 1812, Tecumseh [expectorates] — not the last time you'll see me spit at a bearer of that name — forced my parents from the home they'd made on the shores of Lake Erie. They fled south to Mount Vernon, Ohio, where I was born a wanderer, pushed from solid land.