History can be a funny business!!!
As America moves toward the 2020 election, the country will see if there will be a 46th president or if the 45th — Donald J. Trump, in case you have forgotten — will earn a second term.
But a recent discovery by historians has cast doubt on the numbering. Archivists at the National Past Institute (NPI) in Washington, D.C., have discovered that in the 1820s, there was an additional president, previously unknown. “Shocker,” said Melvin Unterberry, the director of the NPI.
Even stranger, it wasn’t one person, but two! The twenty-eighth president, for over a century believed to be Woodrow Wilson, was in fact, the vaudeville team of Anson and Berke: more specifically, Benny Anson and Billy Berke, a comic team that influenced such famous duos as Gallagher and Shean and the Howard Brothers.
“Shocker,” Unterberry said again. “I had always assumed, just like everyone, that I knew all the presidents. So when we discovered the Anson and Berke Administration, my jaw hit the floor.”
HISTORY HIDES THINGS
Unterberry opened a folder filled with campaign brochures. “They had conquered the stage by 1908,” he said. “And then they broke up for a while. Anson got rich in pecans and Berke started teaching history. When they reunited, everyone assumed it was to start touring the vaudeville houses again. Ultimately, it wasn’t.”
The pair began campaigning to gather material for a new show, but they found the process challenging and educational enough that they gradually became more serious. Unterberry explains: “Shocker. You’d think that the main driver would be Berke. He was the serious one. But it was Anson. ‘Call me nuts,’ he said. It became his catchphrase.”
Elected by a narrow majority, Anson and Berke governed as a team, with Anson’s conservatism balanced by Berke’s liberalism. Their balanced approach created a period of relative peace for America.
But Anson and Berke didn’t forget about fun. Each new piece of legislation was introduced by a song, composed by Anson with words by Berke: “They wake in the morning and go off to work / It’s Berke and it’s Anson, Anson and Berke.”
The administration was marked by modest gains. But near the close of their first term, both men decided they would not seek reelection. “Politics was a cynical business, and ultimately they were dreamers,” said presidential historian Alberta Jonquil, who for reasons unspecified did not wish to discuss the Anson and Berke administration any further.
AN UNTIMELY DEMISE
A year after leaving office, both former presidents were killed in an automobile accident. “A tragedy,” said Unterberry. “At the time, it was reported that Anson, who was driving, fell asleep at the wheel, but new evidence suggests that maybe they were murdered by powerful people who thought they had made a mockery of the political process.”
“Shocker,” he said.